Last Blockbuster location will host ’90s-themed sleepover through Airbnb

Linda J. Dodson

Table of Contents

Dive Brief:

  • Blockbuster is turning its last remaining store location in Bend, Oregon, into a limited-time Airbnb rental, according to media reports.
  • The space for guests to enjoy an “end of summer sleepover,” per the Airbnb listing, has been revamped to look like a 1990s living room, complete with a foldout bed and bedding inspired by the video-rental company’s heyday.
  • The property will go live on Airbnb on Aug. 17 at 4 p.m. EST and be available for three one-night reservations from Sept. 18-20. Each booking will allow up to four people to sleep over within “quarantine pods.” Only residents of the store’s local area, Deschutes County, are eligible to book due to safety concerns around spreading the novel coronavirus through travel. Reminiscent of Blockbuster movie rental pricing, bookings will cost $4.

Dive Insight:

While Blockbuster — once a home video rental powerhouse — has mostly been killed off by the rise of streaming services like Netflix, its last remaining store location in the world is launching a bit of experiential marketing to revitalize interest and online discussion around its brand. As Business Insider notes, a key reason the store is still open is the supportive local community and movie fans paying $30 a month for a membership. However, the pandemic has damaged the in-person business.

“Over the past few months, we’ve been missing the regular visits from friends, neighbors and tourists from around the world,” Sandi Harding, the Blockbuster location’s manager, wrote in the Airbnb listing.

Opening up the store on Airbnb for a weekend serves as an “ode to movie magic, simpler times, and the sense of community that could once be found in Blockbuster locations around the world,” according to the listing, and may help the shop to generate attention or donations to stay afloat during the pandemic that’s pushing many consumers to hunker down at home and stream more content online.

The weekend rental boasts a quintessential 1990s vibe, leaning into the nostalgia trend many marketers have tapped into in recent years to court millennials that came of age during the decade. Not only will guests get to spend an evening in a Blockbuster, a relic in itself, for the Airbnb rental, the store has set up an era-appropriate living room, complete with furniture and decor from the decade when home movie rentals from Blockbuster were a regular weekly occurrence for many consumers.

The rental follows last year’s trend around branded Airbnb stays, something that’s quieted down since the pandemic began limiting travel options. Via similar activations, Mattel decked out a Malibu home into Barbie’s Dreamhouse and Oscar Meyer let fans camp out in the Weinermobile. Additionally, teamed up with ’90s icon designer Lisa Frank to create a colorful retro penthouse in downtown Los Angeles bookable for a limited time through A return to branded Airbnb stays could signal that experiential marketing will ramp back up again as the world continues to reopen, albeit with new health safeguards in place.

Airbnb, hit hard at the start of the pandemic, has shown surpsing signs of recovery as consumers book more local stays following months of being cooped up at home. The home-sharing company plans to file to go public as early as later this month, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday. 

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