Why Blockbuster Went Lackluster

There is one Blockbuster store left in America, in Bend, Oregon. At one time, there were 9,000 stores operating, but streaming and a lack of customer engagement did them in. I will confess that I miss my Blockbuster store.

I miss it because of Sam, not the videos.

Sam worked at my local shop. I don’t know how we started talking but we did, and he clued me in to some fantastic films that I never would have seen otherwise.

Before too long, Sam was my go-to guy. I’d walk in the store and look for him, we’d exchange a nod if he were busy and I’d walk around the aisles, knowing that Sam would soon come over and set me up with a few titles that would blow me away.

I remember talking to him about the sustainability of Blockbuster, and he was ahead of his time. He thought that Blockbuster was missing a huge opportunity to screen videos right in the store, or host seminars and events around certain films. I agreed with him.

He pointed out that customers are always engaged watching the television screens that the store would screen films on. Sam was known for only running the best parts (or his favorite parts) of films, and he’d be cueing up films constantly, like a DJ getting the next song ready. On numerous occasions he’d have customers gathered around the counter, patiently waiting for him to cue up “the best 5 minutes in film history.”

Imagine seeing a bunch of customers, videos rented, not leaving the store because they were engaged with a passionate staff member who wants to share his favorite scenes from films.

There is a lesson here for all of us.

Everything changes and quicker than you realize. It’s not enough to meet our clients’ needs today; sustainable success rests on your ability to anticipate what your clients needs and desires will be tomorrow.

What is the disruption in your business? How are you preparing to shift so that you can continue to bring value to your clients?

By the way, I follow the last Blockbuster store’s Twitter account, and it’s a riot. @loneblockbuster

Oh, and Sam, if you’re reading and if you are in real estate, then buckle up, brother. That is surely the next business to hit the canvas.


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