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November 3, 2013

Say bye-bye to Athens Blockbuster store, last in state

The Internet killed the video store.

It’s not quite the same as the 1979 video hit by The Buggles (“Video Killed the Radio Star”), but it has the same meaning.

The latest victim of technology is Blockbuster on U.S. 72 in Athens. This isn’t just another video store, either.

It is the last Blockbuster in the state. The once-proud standard bearer of the video industry is a quickly shrinking company, joining the likes of Movie Gallery and Hollywood Video.

The store will close Nov. 22 but, until then, it will hold a liquidation sale starting Monday.

“Everything but the paneling on the walls and the carpet on the floor will be for sale,” said store manager Denise Harrington. “We’re in a three-week liquidation. It’s going to be a madhouse in here … I hope.”

She’s been with Blockbuster for two years and this is Harrington’s third store to liquidate.

“I got the call last week,” she said. “This will be the last (Blockbuster) store in Alabama.”

The store has been open since 1996 and some of the posters such as “The Rugrats” and “Braveheart” seem to have been on the walls since Day One.  There’s a sense of nostalgia and plenty of “I remember when …” moments while walking through the store.

Harrington said it was also a wonderful job.

“I’m going to miss this,” she said. “It’s a great job … we got to talk about movies and games all day.”

Today, Harrington and her staff will be putting “for sale” signs on shelves, flat-screen TVs, display cabinets and even the store’s refrigerator and microwave. And, of course, they will be marking down prices on DVDs and games;

“I wish I could buy the inventory for myself,” she said. “I mean these are really discounted prices.”

Unfortunately for customers, the latest releases are boxed up to be shipped to stores that are still in business, she said.

The store hours are Sunday (except today) through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

“I’m just trying to get it together,” Harrington said of the task at hand. “We’ve got a lot of duties to do.

“I know what to expect but it doesn’t make it any less sad.”

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