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TMCNet:  Modesto-area Blockbusters closing in shift to online

[February 22, 2013]

Modesto-area Blockbusters closing in shift to online

MODESTO, Feb 22, 2013 (The Modesto Bee - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) -- Here's the dish on Blockbuster: It's leaving the block, at least in Modesto, but through Dish Network hopes to start seeing Net profits.

Three Blockbuster stores in this area are among the 300 closing nationwide: Closing March 24: Store 6431 at 2900 Standiford Ave., Modesto Closing April 7: Store 91907 at 2401 E. Orangeburg Ave., Modesto Closing May 12: Store 6255 at 510 N. Main St., Manteca The Modesto stores no longer are renting videos, only selling them. The Manteca store will rent through March 16.

The Turlock Blockbuster, at 1401 Geer Road, will remain open, said a Turlock employee who, like other Blockbuster employees, declined to give his name because he was not authorized to speak for the company. Calls to the Blockbuster corporate communications office were not returned this week.

Longtime customer Michelle Immediato, picking through a bin of DVDs in sleeves at the Century Center Blockbuster, said of the closures, "It's a shame." Immediato said she's gone to that Blockbuster since it opened more than 20 years ago. "My daughter's first job was at this store," she said. "There are good memories in this store. It's going to be missed." Immediato added, however, that she hasn't been going in as frequently in recent years, and when she does, it's to buy a previously viewed movie, not rent one. For rentals, she said, Redbox kiosks are just so handy.

But for Junior Renteria, the store is a destination. "I like to browse around, kill a little time before I pick up the kids," he said Tuesday, scouting the aisles before school let out.

Signs outside announcing the closing drew in Jennifer Nath. She said she never rents from a store. "We have Netflix," she said.

Lulu Holm said she came to the Blockbuster store to pick up some family-friendly movies before they ran out. "It's too bad that it's going down the tubes, but with all those Redboxes out there -- that's what the kids use," Holm said.

At the Redbox kiosk by Walgreens on McHenry Avenue, Daniel Gonzales said he switched and never looked back. "They're convenient and a lot cheaper," he said. "It's the times we're in." For Ari Ramos, being able to pick up a movie at one kiosk and drop it off the next day at another is "a lifesaver." "They're everywhere. At Blockbuster you have to drop it off at that special store," Ramos said. Besides, she said, new releases go for $3.99 at Blockbuster, but just $1.20 at a Redbox.

Blockbuster is owned by Dish Network. Going from disc to download will open doors, company strategists say, driving Blockbuster @Home streams to TVs, computers and iPads. The service also offers home delivery of more than 100,000 movies, TV shows and video games.

Blockbuster spokesman John Hall told The Denver Post on Monday that about 500 locations nationwide will remain open.

Dish Network bought Blockbuster in March 2011, and in 2012 shuttered about 500 underperforming Blockbuster locations. Hall says the stores that will be closed in coming months are underperforming or nearing the end of their leases.

He says the 3,000 employees losing their jobs were informed about the closures last Friday. Those stores' locations have not been announced, but employees answering the phones at area stores confirmed their closing dates.

___ (c)2013 The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) Visit The Modesto Bee (Modesto, Calif.) at www.modbee.com Distributed by MCT Information Services

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