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Blockbuster closures won't impact Juneau

Alaska's stores are franchises owned by a Texas-based company

Posted: November 6, 2013 - 12:58pm  |  Updated: November 7, 2013 - 12:08am
A customer walks into the Blockbuster Video store on Mendenhall Mall Road on Wednesday. Juneau's two independently-owned Blockbuster stores will not be closing.  Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
Michael Penn | Juneau Empire
A customer walks into the Blockbuster Video store on Mendenhall Mall Road on Wednesday. Juneau's two independently-owned Blockbuster stores will not be closing.

Alaska’s 13 Blockbuster stores, including the two in Juneau, will not be impacted by Blockbuster LLC’s recent decision to close its approximately 300 remaining locations in the country by early January, according to the owner of the Alaska stores.

Alaska’s Blockbusters are franchises owned by Austin, Texas-based Border Entertainment, and are some of the last remaining franchises in the country, Border Entertainment owner Alan Payne said.

“We operate completely independently from Blockbuster, except to pay franchise fees,” Payne said. “Most people think of Blockbuster as Blockbuster, they don’t think of those stores as owned by a different company.”

Payne’s company also owns 13 stores in Texas. Besides his stores, there are only about 25 other Blockbuster franchises in the country, he said.

“Once all this shakes out, there will probably less than 50 franchise stores left in the entire country, and 13 of them will be in Alaska,” he said.

Payne said the Juneau stores, which he’s owned since 1995, continue to be profitable and will not close any time soon. In fact, his string of franchises is one of few that hasn’t closed down or significantly downsized, even when Blockbuster, now owned by Dish Network, filed for bankruptcy in 2010, Payne said. At Blockbuster’s height, it had about 1,200 franchise stores, he said.

“We’re in it to be profitable and we’ve done it differently than most and we’ve been successful in transitioning the business as it changed,” he said. “We’ve still got a lot of really good stores.”

At Border Entertainment’s peak, it had 16 stores in Alaska. One Anchorage location has since closed, as well as the Ketchikan store, Payne said. A few months ago, the Kodiak store closed when it was found to be no longer profitable, he said.

Payne attributes his franchises’ success in Alaska to his company’s speed in switching its stock from VHS to DVD when the time came and keeping rental prices lower than competitors, as well as corporate Blockbuster stores.

“We’ve bobbed and weaved and figured out ways to adjust,” Payne said. “We’re fine, and we plan on being in business for a long time.”

• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 523-2294 or at katherine.moritz@juneauempire.com. Follow her on Twitter @katecmoritz.

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