In America, the Blockbuster video chain conjures images of boarded-up storefronts, vacant shelves and desolated aisles. Just south of the border in Mexico, however, the company is alive and thriving.
After shuttering the last U.S. Blockbuster stores in November, the chain's parent company Dish Network sold 320 Mexican locations (and 1.6 million members) to Grupo Elektra earlier this month for $31 million.
In Mexico, the Blockbuster name still resounds, and online services like Netflix and iTunes have not yet made rentals an antiquated proposition.
“The Blockbuster name has more panache in Mexico and many of the stores are located in well-heeled neighborhoods,” Juan Elizalde, a financial analyst, told Bloomberg.
Also, Redbox does not exist in Mexico, and only 31 percent of households are connected to the internet. Blockbuster does face stiff competition from bootleggers, however, who are responsible for the sale of 90% of DVDs in the country, according to Mexico's Business Coordinating Council.
But Elektra, a financial and retail corporation, has bigger plans for Blockbuster beyond just rentals -- including as a springboard into selling electronics and financial services like online banking, according to the report.
Mexican Blockbusters also currently vend DVD players, stuffed toys, spicy tamarind candy and even offer to pick up rented moves at consumers’ homes for a mere 10 pesos (75 cents). The company also operates two branded movie theaters, Blockbuster Cinema.
Following the acquisition, Blockbuster Mexico CEO Edward Arguelles will continue to helm the company, and its roughly 2,600 employees will remain onboard.
At its peak in America, Blockbuster operated roughly 9,000 locations circa 2004 when it was spun off by Viacom. Prior to closing its last American locations, Dish also divested Blockbuster’s remaining international assets, including stores in the U.K. and Scandinavia.