For those longing for the Blockbuster Video days, they can find a little piece of nostalgia when they visit the Fly Vintage & Vinyl store in Robbinsdale.
Sitting outside the Company, located on the 3900 block of 36th Avenue North, is a blue newspaper distributor, called “Free Blockbuster”. No pages and ink inside; instead, it serves as a movie sharing and lending box with DVDs you might have found in an old Blockbuster, similar to the little free libraries found in the Twin Cities.
From the “Free Blockbuster Robbinsdale” Facebook page, the box was dropped off outside the Vinyl store this week. Travis Stone, who came up with the idea to set up the lending library, said the box would contain films “in and out to keep it fresh”.
Stone told Bring Me The News that he’s a movie buff and wants to do something to give people an alternative to streaming services.
“Some may not afford or want to use streaming services, which keeps people entertained,” he said.
He said he stumbled upon the site freeblockbuster.org, which is an organization that has free movie boxes all over the United States. It all started with a volunteer and then the idea is for the community to pick up the slack by taking films and adding to the collection.
Stone’s box in Robbinsdale is one of eight locations in the state, including three in Minneapolis and others in Plymouth, Shoreview, Burnsville, Apple Valley.
But Stone, born and raised in the Twin Cities area, has noticed some of the boxes on the Tube are “empty and dusty” and hopes his version of a small library will remain active and well maintained.
The decision to place the box outside the vinyl store “just made sense”.
“I walk past Fly Vintage every day. Their stores are vintage, my box is vintage — I went there and asked them one day [about placing the box outside the store] and they thought it was a great idea,” Stone said.
He also had volunteer help with stencils to put on the box. According to the organization’s website, the boxes are strategically placed, and volunteers help “build, maintain and store” the boxes to take out and replace. Most boxes are near a volunteer’s home. The box chosen by Stone is a former Star Tribune newspaper distributor.
Stone said social media engagement has “exploded” since he opened the box to the community this week.
Last year, a free Blockbuster box appeared in Minneapolis outside Heroic Goods & Games off Minnehaha Avenue.
Blockbuster Video, which was ubiquitous in the heyday of VHS and later DVD movie rentals in the 90s, now has only one store: in Bend, Oregon.