Blockbuster goes bust in Tribeca

Tribeca movie renters will have one less option in 2006, as Blockbuster Express prepares to close its doors in January.

“The rent is just too high, and the location has not been profitable,” said Karen Raskopf, spokesperson for Blockbuster. “That particular store did not have enough traffic to stay open.”

The store looked half-empty and there were no customers on a Wednesday afternoon visit.

Met with much enthusiasm from the community upon opening in late 2004, the store on Greenwich St. was the only one of its kind in New York, and also the first express-style part of the corporate chain in the U.S.

The chain’s “Express” tag meant slimmer than usual floor space, and an altogether different renting process. Laminated cards, in place of actual VHS Cassettes or DVD’s, were selected by the customer, and then brought to the clerk in exchange for the rental.

In recent years, the Blockbuster franchise has struggled with hanging on to the crown as the leader in home movie viewing. Convenient online subscription services like Netflix, through delivering movies right to your door, have forced the former giant to gradually re-draft many of their policies.

First it was the elimination of their dreaded late fees, and when business still declined, Blockbuster launched a new online service: one reminiscent of the Netflix model. The online revolution may have influenced the in-store success as of late, but Raskopf insists business is still steady.

“We look at online renting as an opportunity for us, and a growing area, not a threat,” she said. “More than 40 percent of online renters continue to rent in-store.”

She did say some stores would close around the country and fewer new ones would open.

Blockbuster Express, located in Tribeca for just over a year, will close its doors on Sunday Jan.22.

—Frank Farina

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