comscore Take a movie, leave a movie | Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Live Well

Take a movie, leave a movie

Honolulu Star-Advertiser logo
Unlimited access to premium stories for as low as $12.95 /mo.
Get It Now
                                Alyssa Kollgaard shows off a kiosk, decked out to look like a “Blockbuster” in front of her home in Sun Valley, Calif. She said that the kiosk can hold about 75 DVDs and people can rent them for free.


    Alyssa Kollgaard shows off a kiosk, decked out to look like a “Blockbuster” in front of her home in Sun Valley, Calif. She said that the kiosk can hold about 75 DVDs and people can rent them for free.

LOS ANGELES >> It’s time to hit rewind.

Remember when movies were literally at your fingertips, before you had to pay for Netflix and YouTube TV?

Alyssa Kollgaard has re-created that experience outside her Sun Valley neighborhood home, where she has built and stocked a new Blockbuster “store.”

With a banner declaring its grand opening, the blue-and- yellow structure, created in the vein of a Little Free Library, is part of a national Free Blockbuster movement in which neighbors can take — or leave — VHS tapes or DVDs.

The Free Blockbusters exist from El Paso, Texas, to Canada, with aughts-sick movie lovers building them out of bookshelves or newspaper stands.

“We’re seeing a return to physical media,” says Kollgaard, who works in the entertainment industry. “There’s a nostalgia around the experience of going to a store and perusing as well as actually collecting so you’re not at the whim of the streaming platforms to actually watch films.”

How long does it take for nostalgia to set in?

Apparently about a decade.

The last Blockbuster store in Los Angeles closed in 2013, reported at the time by Buzzfeed News.

The closure came after the massive home video chain filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Thousands of locations were shuttered nationwide.

Today, only one Blockbuster store remains — in Bend, Ore.

Sure, the selection at Kollgaard’s Blockbuster is a little thinner than it was at your neighborhood store. She currently has about 75 films inside a two-tiered display case, including movies such as “Failure to Launch” and “Bridesmaids.” Each DVD has a sticker on the front that reads “Return to Little Free Blockbuster” along with Kollgaard’s address.

Kollgaard is also offering a limited selection of books — many of which are often on banned lists — such as Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451” and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

Like at the Blockbusters of yore, Kollgaard also has stocked the box with candy, including Red Vines and Sour Patch Kids, as well as popcorn you can enjoy with your take-home movie.

There’s a guest book that people can sign, and Kollgaard even plans to make membership cards for those interested.

Recently someone “rented” a movie and returned it to the lending library later. But Kollgaard expects some DVDs won’t be returned — and that’s OK, she says, although she does ask for returns.

Unlike at Blockbuster, there are no charges or fines, but there is a “late fee” QR code through which Kollgaard is accepting tips for running the enterprise.

Movie donations also are accepted, and Kollgaard says a set of screeners of shows nominated for the 2023 Emmys was recently dropped off.

Kollgaard, who has stocked a free food pantry outside her home for two years, says she hopes the movie sharing will take off in her neighborhood and beyond. Already, people have dropped in from as far away as Marina del Rey.

“The reception has been really positive on Reddit, TikTok and in my local community,” she said. “It’s definitely intended to be permanent. It’s fully installed on my fence.”

The nostalgia surrounding the creation of Kollgaard’s mini- Blockbuster is perhaps what the Los Angeles Times’ “obituary” to the mega-chain prophesied in 2013.

“Someday, today’s teenagers will tell their grandchildren magical tales of visiting the store with the big blue-and-yellow sign, of how it was crammed with videotapes (later DVDs),” a Times Opinion piece read. “Thanks for the memories,” Blockbuster.

Comments (0)

By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the Terms of Service. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. If your comments are inappropriate, you may be banned from posting. Report comments if you believe they do not follow our guidelines.

Having trouble with comments? Learn more here.

Click here to see our full coverage of the coronavirus outbreak. Submit your coronavirus news tip.

Be the first to know
Get web push notifications from Star-Advertiser when the next breaking story happens — it's FREE! You just need a supported web browser.
Subscribe for this feature

Scroll Up