Bensonhurst is home to borough’s last Blockbuster

Behold Brooklyn’s last Blockbuster: the company’s branch on 18th Avenue in Bensonhurst will be its last location in the borough once the movie rental giant’s outgoing store in Sheepshead Bay closes for good.
Photo by Arthur De Gaeta

Film buffs who prefer renting flicks the old fashioned way may be down to their last Blockbuster in Brooklyn.

The movie rental giant known for stocking new releases and charging hefty late fees is closing its Sheepshead Bay branch on Nostrand Avenue, between Avenues X and Y, “any day now,” said a store manager who requested anonymity — leaving the company with possibly a single outpost left in Bensonhurst.

Blockbuster spokesman Aaron Johnson refused to comment on the closing — or confirm if the Bensonhurst branch was the last one standing — except to say that his company was closing under-performing stores, and ones whose leases are up.

“We remain committed to maintaining only those stores that we believe will be [profitable],” said Johnson.

Customers at the DVD emporium on 69th Street and 18th Avenue weren’t surprised that their neighborhood store was holding out against the odds because it still attracts plenty of old-school fans who won’t rent movies from online companies, such as Netflix, that transformed the industry by offering cheap mail-order and digital delivery services.

“They do a lot of business in here — it’s always busy,” said Massimo Orofino, a restaurant worker who lives two blocks away and stops by regularly to get his film fix. “I still like renting movies more than getting them [online].”

Other area residents said they used the Blockbuster to check out the latest Hollywood hits.

“I can come here and find anything,” said Frank Pietropinto. “With Netflix you have to wait.”

Blockbuster charges $2.99 for one-day rentals of new releases, and a penalty fee of 99 cents for each day that the film isn’t returned. Blockbuster On Demand, the company’s online service, charges $2.99 to $3.99 per movie, while Netflix undercuts that by offering an unlimited monthly subscription for $7.99.

In 2010, declining sales forced Blockbuster to file for bankruptcy and streamline its nationwide empire.

Orofino hopes that the Bensonhurst branch would last past its illustrious heyday.

“If they closed this store it would be a disaster,” he said.

Reach reporter Daniel Bush at dbush@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-8310. Follow him at twitter.com/dan_bush.

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