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Bemidij Blockbuster manager says local store not among locations to close

Blockbuster's store manager, Bobbie Scarborough, replaces weekend rentals Monday morning in Bemidji. Pioneer Photo/Monte Draper

While hundreds of Blockbuster stores nationwide have recently been identified for closure, the Bemidji video and game rental store will stay open.

In fact, the local store's manager said the store is thriving.

"Now that we're the last one (rental store) in town, that's made a big difference," Bobbie Scarborough said. "We're definitely going to be around."

The same can't be said in other parts of Minnesota and the nation.

On Monday, the Duluth News Tribune reported Blockbuster planned to close the store there and 10 Twin Cities' locations.

However, Scarborough said there's a big difference between what's happen locally and elsewhere.

"Those are all corporate-owned," she said Monday. "We are franchise-owned.

North Central Management Group, doing business as Lakewood Entertainment, is a regional franchisee for Blockbuster in Minnesota and the Dakotas. North Central owns 10 franchise stores, including stores in Bemidji, Mankato, Albert Lea, Sioux Falls, S.D., and the North Dakota cities of Grand Forks, Jamestown and Bismarck.

Those stores will remain open.

However, one of its franchise stores in Fargo, N.D., is holding a going-out-of-business sale and will close once its shelves are clear.

In 2010, Blockbuster went into bankruptcy and was purchased in 2011 by Dish Network Corp., which now operates Blockbuster as a subsidiary.

The Duluth newspaper said the Texas-based company wouldn't discuss details, but reported its stores can close for various reasons, including the loss of a lease and issues with the size of a store.

Blockbuster closed more than 1,000 stores in 2009 and 2010.

Scarborough said the latest round of 300 stores, including those in other parts of Minnesota, isn't as bad as it sounds. The company also is opening stores in locations.

In Bemidji, Blockbuster remains the only brick-and-mortar rental store, although Redbox kiosks are available locally.

In addition, there are several mail and online subscription services, like Netflix and, available for movie viewers.

And Scarborough said changes dictated by major Hollywood studios will make brick-and-mortar stores more viable in the future.

"In the spring, three of the six major studios aren't going to allow Netflix and Redbox to carry new titles for 56 days," she said.

Currently, studios give stores like Blockbuster a 28-day head start to rent new releases.

"We're not going to be closing," Scarborough said.

An Associated Press report said Warner Bros. is poised to announce today that its latest DVD releases won't be made available to rental outlets until nearly two months after the discs can be bought in stores and websites.

A person familiar with the matter explained the new rules to The Associated Press on Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the changes won't be announced until Tuesday during a major electronics show in Las Vegas.

The new restriction will double a 28-day delay on DVD rentals that Warner Bros. reached with Netflix's video subscription service two years ago. After that breakthrough, several other movie studios adopted similar moratoriums, although many DVD releases still remain available to rent on the same day they go on sale in stores.

Redbox said it hasn't agreed to extend its 28-delay on Warner discs.

The Duluth News Tribune and Associated Press contributed to this article.

Steve Wagner

Grand Forks Herald Editor Steve Wagner can be reached at 701.780.1104 and He joined the Herald in April 2013, and previously worked as editor at the Bemidji (Minn.) Pioneer and in several roles -- including news director, investigative reporter and crime reporter - at The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. His reporting experience includes coverage of Dru Sjodin's disappearance and the federal death penalty case for her murderer, Alfonso Rodriguez Jr., along with several investigative projects. In his spare time, Wagner is an avid runner and occasionally writes about his experiences on his blog, Addicted to Running.

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