In what may be yet another sign of the CNMI’s economic downturn, the only branch of the Blockbuster chain of video rental stores on Saipan is poised to close, leaving local people with one less place to take in a movie.
On Tuesday, staff placed “Going Out of Business” signs across the front windows of the store and began selling its DVDs at a discount. Staff declined to comment on the closure and referred questions to the company’s corporate offices in the American mainland, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
However, one business community source said the store was struggling to stay open due to rising costs and diminished revenues. Another source later confirmed that Hollywood Video has purchased the store’s video racks. It was not immediately known when Blockbuster Video will permanently shutter its doors.
As of 6pm last night, news of Blockbuster’s closure has spread like wildfire through the community, with many trooping to the store to snap up the discounted DVDs and games. By 7pm, people were no longer being allowed inside the Susupe store as it was already full and the staff was reportedly planning to close down at 9:30pm.
Blockbuster’s closing leaves Saipan’s residents with one less place to catch a movie on the island. Last month, the island’s only cinema, Hollywood Theatres announced that it would also be closing its doors two days each week.
In April, the movie theatre shut down completely, with its parent company, Wallace Theatre Corp., citing poor economic conditions in the CNMI and rising operational costs. It later reopened after the company reviewed financial projections and weighed the major outpouring of public support the theatre saw when it closed.