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Posted on Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 11 a.m.

Blockbuster to close video rental stores in Ann Arbor and Saline

By Nathan Bomey

(Update: Restaurants showing interest in Blockbuster store in Ann Arbor)

Blockbuster plans to close at least two local stores, further diminishing the Ann Arbor area's stand-alone video rental store options.

The chain plans to close the stores on 2248 S. Main St. in Ann Arbor and 1305 E. Michigan Ave. in Saline, several sources said.


Blockbuster plans to close stores in Ann Arbor and Saline.

Photo courtesy of Blockbuster

It was not immediately clear whether the stores on Main Street in Chelsea or Ellsworth Road in Ypsilanti Township were affected by the decision.

Local store managers referred questions to a district manager who declined to comment and directed inquiries to a corporate media relations department, which did not respond to requests.

Blockbuster has closed several local stores in recent years, including one on Jackson Road and one on Plymouth Road.

The local closures come after Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in 2010 and was sold in a bankruptcy auction to Dish Network Corp. earlier this year.

Blockbuster faces a litany of challenges, including video-streaming services such as Netflix, video rental machines like Redbox and a costly real estate footprint.

The company had announced in July that it would maintain more than 1,500 stores and 15,000 employees.

In the Ann Arbor area, Blockbuster plans to close:

--The store at Woodland Plaza at the corner of Main Street and Ann Arbor-Saline Road, a shopping center that also includes a Busch's grocery store. An owner of the complex could not be reached for comment.

--The store in the same shopping center as the Country Market store on Saline's east side. The complex, called the Commons at Sauk Trail, also recently lost the Fashion Bug clothing store, Pack & Mail, the Flaming Shish restaurant and the Dollar Tree, which moved across the street. A resale shop run by Washtenaw Christian Academy opened in one of the vacant spaces.

A real estate broker representing the Commons at Sauk Trail could not be reached for comment.

A listing by brokerage CB Richard Ellis is marketing 17,700 square feet of empty space in the facility at $12 per square foot per year.

The other leading video chain in Washtenaw County was Hollywood Video, which closed its last local store in spring 2010.

Contact's Nathan Bomey at (734) 623-2587 or You can also follow him on Twitter or subscribe to's newsletters.


Comrade Trotsky

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 6:53 p.m.

This is a great loss. Nothing beats going into a video store, browsing the selection, and bringing home that film. It's hard to do that online and my internet connection is too slow to stream. All these people on here cheering on "Capitalism" are not losing their jobs. I'm sure if their businesses were closing they wouldn't be saying "Capitalism at Work." The Blockbuster on Main Street was actually doing some very cool things towards the end. They had in store events, much like the stores we had back in the old days. It was a lot of fun. You can't do this kind of thing online or at a Redbox. A great loss.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 3:42 p.m.

My great grandfather was a harness maker. My father told me that the first time a horseless carriage came through their town, Grandpa put the harness shop on the market, and as soon as it sold, bought the local general store. Time and tide wait for no one (or whatever the actual quote might be). It's hard for a movie rental chain to get too big to fail.


Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 6:37 p.m.

And then Wal-Mart came to town and drove his grocery store out of business?


Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 2:36 p.m.

It sucks to be them. If you can't turn a profit you can't stay in business.It's really simple. MERRY CHRISTMAS

J. Zarman

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 2:02 p.m.

I have been happy with Blockbuster's $7.99/month plan: 2 DVDs at a time, including games. I could exchange an online rental at the Blockbuster store for a game or movie at no extra charge, unlimited time rented. I will keep doing this at the Ellsworth location. Browsing through the selections will be hard to replace online. Too much like browsing at Amazon instead of in a Borders store. The staffs at all Blockbuster locations, S. Main, Michigan Av., and Ellsworth Rd., are very helpful -- great people who deserve better.


Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 8:20 a.m.

Am I the only one who actually enjoyed driving there, physically browsing through the aisles, discovering movies I hadn't known about, and interacting with the very knowledgable and friendly staff? I'm going to miss that.


Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 4:34 a.m.

RE: "It's hard to compete with the convenience of Red Box." - Well, judging by the fact that people use their gas-burning cars just to line up (at all hours, in any weather) at such dispensaries, Red Box won't succeed based on the intelligence of its customers - but on their lack of it. It is to be fervently hoped that, some day soon, it will dawn on Red Box customers that they ARE beaten in terms of convenience: thousands and maybe millions of time every day. Red Box is beaten by: Netflix-mailed DVDs and by streaming movies from several sources. I have bought a few "seasons" of downloadable TV shows - for my iTunes library. One can connect one's computer to the TV or just have a giant computer screen for watching moves - with ZERO time spent driving, burning gas, standing in line, and/or trying to fend off beggars and dogs brought by owners if the "box" is close to a residential neighborhood. Blockbuster, et all, are now obsolete: mostly because they all started out renting movies on VCR cassettes. VCR's are less "mail-able" so it made sense so long as VCRs were the only media available for movie distribution. Well, gotta stop here and watch the latest movie on DVD from Netflix.


Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 1:53 p.m.

The only time most people I know use REDBOX is when they are shopping or they pass a store on the way home. A lot of people cannot afford the equipment needed to use NETFLIX or pay an affordable internet hookup that can handle streaming video. It is a real treat for my friends to be able to rent a movie for a $1.00, because they cannot afford going to the movies, let alone $200 or $300 dollars to buy WII or an XBOX so get off the poor peoples back.

Fat Bill

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 3:28 a.m.

The media rental model has simply played out; technology simply rendered the notion of movies on a disc obsolete. How would you have liked to own a factory that made videocassette tapes? You woul have enjoyed boom time in the late 70's through the early 90's, then its all downhill from there. When 28,800 bps was a good internet connection, it made perfect sense to have video stores on every busy corner...


Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 12:11 a.m.

The free market has spoken and people don't want to pay $4 to rent a movie. They are willing to wait 1 month for new releases and pay $20/month for "unlimited" rentals (actually about 10-12 movies/month with the $20 Netflix plan) plus unlimited streaming. Block Buster has a dinosaur of a business model and Dish hasn't done much to improve it since they took over. No big mystery here, times are tough and people want more bang for their buck.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 10:04 p.m.

YOu could tell more than a year ago that this would happen. I am one who still liked to rent from Blockbuster as monthly fees for netflix weren't worth it for me. However, once they went to daily fees instead of the classsic 2/3/5 day rentals they lost my business. Technology caught up with them.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 9:09 p.m.

I, like a lot of people didn't like it when Netflix raised their prices recently but I still like the convenience of getting DVDs in the mail and not having to worry about late fees as I can keep them for as long as I need to. Blockbuster just didn't seem to get that concept. Along with the instant steaming through our Wii you can't beat the it. I do feel bad for the folks losing their jobs, in this economy especially.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 3:44 p.m.

The thing I like best about Netflix DVDs is the near-impossibility of not finding the movie you want and getting it right away. Streaming doesn't do that.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 9:06 p.m.

The individuals that work in these stores are extremely nice. I have heart felt sorrow for them as this is not news one wants to hear around the holidays.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.

Capitalism is the greatest system in the world, and it works when the government keeps its hand off of it! So let them fail there are other options I was not aware of, but will find out now. I was happy getting three movies at a time in the mail taking them back to Saline Blockbuster and getting a current selection then return that one and having another mailed to me for $20.00 per month. Apparently they got bought out by someone, now they are closing two more stores? They are leaving the one in Ypsilanti open for now, does that mean they are more profitable? Does that mean their customers are getting ripped off or are not as smart? Blockbuster was big in the rental business they were the Wal -mart if you are not sharp and stay on top of things you will no longer prevail! When you can not longer serve your customer base effectively then it is time to go. The same is politicians so listen up, when you not longer serve the people we will serve you out. The same goes for municipal workers get competitive or your job union of not will be gone. No one thing is forever IBM ( Big Blue ) is still around but they "changed" so evolve or get dissolved. No one is there to save you anymore, the people are fed up no more sweetheart deals if you want those look only to corporate America. Thank you Capitalism it works, it puts America to work, keeps your hands off you big ugly government.

Comrade Trotsky

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

The only people who run around cheering capitalism are those who are not adversely affected by it. What about the people who are going to lose their jobs? How will they find new ones? Yes, let Blockbuster fail. The people working there don't matter, do they?


Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 6:35 p.m.

And then Wal-Mart came to town and drove his grocery store out of business?

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 3:40 p.m.

My great grandfather was a harness maker. My father told me that the first time a horseless carriage came through their town, Grandpa put the harness shop on the market, and as soon as it sold, bought the local general store. Time and tide wait for no one (or whatever the actual quote might be). It's hard for a movie rental chain to get too big to fail.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 3:35 p.m.

I agree with the two previous commenters.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 8:19 p.m.

Yeah.... true for a tractor company trying to sell jets.....but this was a movie rental company with plenty of time to 'discover' renting movies on the internet. ....and what was Borders excuse? Barnes and Noble was all bricks an mortar also.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 8:06 p.m.

blockbuster and redbox were the same amount to rent a movie for one night. it cost $1.00 which was great. then blockbuster did a stupid thing. they went to a new system. new movies cost $3.00 . three months later it went to $2.00. then it went to $1.00. redbox still remained the same and still does $1.00 on line and $1.20 if you use the machine at the locations. this is a great deal and i know with netflix and redbox the blockbusters boxes will soon stop also. if you order on line it is so simple. just swipe your credit card and pu your movie. check it out.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 6:40 p.m.

The store in Saline and its staff were the best. They were the only reason to use Blockbuster, mail Blockbuster has a milloin titles but none are ever available, if you call customer service you get someone in another country that can't speak english, and why pay Blockbuster to stream when its free with a Netflix membership. Best of luck to the great staff in Saline. The tanfastic in the Commons is gone also. Maybe if the landlord fixed the GIANT pot holes in the driveway and cleaned up this place, he could get some rent. I called the real estate broker once and they didn't even know they had it listed. Too much competition out there for a landlord to slack off.....


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:48 p.m.

It's hard to compete with the convenience of Red Box.

Comrade Trotsky

Wed, Dec 28, 2011 : 6:39 p.m.

A RedBox may be convenient. but the selection is very poor.

Usual Suspect

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 12:26 a.m.

Buster for the win. And the smackdown.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 8:08 p.m.

they got them at kroger, meijer and wallgreens (jackson rd) check on line for locations.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 7:50 p.m.

As long as thousands of others do go into the store, I am sure the occasional Buster does not concern them. I doubt Buster concerns any of the other satellite stores that have sprung up on that once barren corner. And I suppose the township tax collector is quite tolerate of the occasional Buster too while counting the expanded tax revenues.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 7:33 p.m.

And thats why they call him Buster.

Buster W.

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 6:52 p.m.

@ffej440 "I think Red Box in Saline is inside Walmart. A place I will NEVER go." Then how did you know it was inside the Saline Walmart?


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 6:42 p.m.

I think Red Box in Saline is inside Walmart. A place I will NEVER go.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

More American jobs down the drain. Somehow this is Obama's fault.

Billy Bob Schwartz

Thu, Dec 22, 2011 : 3:30 p.m.

All right was MY fault. I dunnit! I work to get rid of any store that requires it's male employees to have short hair.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 10:15 p.m.

Wake up ya'll don't you know tongue in cheek when you see it?


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 7:51 p.m.

No, this is Pee-Wee Herman's fault. Makes as much sense as your responses. C'mon, it's capitalism and technology, and it's a new age.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 7:47 p.m.

It is not a political issue, it is a business/technology advancement issue. Netflix hit the ground running and did a great job, making DVD rental stores obsolete. Not a political issue. I can't image Netflix needs anywhere near as many employees. And those Redboxes do not have many employees inside them either. Again not a political issue.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 6:55 p.m.

Your both wrong this is on Bush!


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:51 p.m.

Who'll think of the children? Shame on us!

Jojo B

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:45 p.m.

More jobs down the drain? Well yes, for a couple of teenagers who could give a crap. They'll have to apply at McDonalds and Qdoba now. Not that big of a loss.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:37 p.m.

Hieftje's fault?

Buster W.

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:26 p.m.

The business of these stores will simply shift to another company within the industry.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:09 p.m.

More Michigan jobs down the drain. Somehow this is Snyder's fault.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:08 p.m.

Nope.....can only be Synder's


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 4:49 p.m.

Capitalism at work, companies try and fail while others try and succeed. Its nice to see instead of Government bailing companies out and spending our tax dollars unwisely!


Thu, Dec 29, 2011 : 3:21 p.m.

Just think of all that government money that was wasted on research for polio and many other illnesses no longer a threat.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 9:59 p.m.

Good thing the evil government funded research that created the Internet Supported the post office Gave monopolies to telecommunications companies like Comcast for many years to invest in cables and wires And supported net neutrality so your movie download is just as important as everything else on the net. But yeah, otherwise it's just the free market....

The Black Stallion3

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:53 p.m.

If you want to talk about Government this. Coburn Releases 'Wastebook' Detailing More Than $6.5 Billion in 'Unnecessary' Spending


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 4:40 p.m.

You mean to tell me it costs 17,700 a month to rent the store in Saline? about a burdensome chunk of overhead.

Some Guy in 734

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 8:05 p.m.

Mick 52: <a href="" rel='nofollow'></a>


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 7:44 p.m.

The talk of square feet makes me wonder: Does anyone know how big Netflix facilities are? I get their disks with a Lansing return address. They must have gazillions of DVDs and I wonder how big their warehouse is. Maybe it does not have to be this big because the disks are so small. But they must have a lot of them, they do not seem to have a problem with them all mailed out.

Nathan Bomey

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:30 p.m.

@DennisP is correct. There is a total of 17,700 square feet of vacant space available in the facility. The Blockbuster is a portion of that space but the Commons at Sauk Trail has other available storefronts. I don't know the exact size of Blockbuster's Saline store lease.

Buster W.

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:21 p.m.

There's no way that tiny store is 17,700 square feet. Maybe 1,700??? Nathan, can you please confirm?


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:13 p.m.

Well, that's all the vacant space in the strip mall they are marketing. 17,700 square feet is nearing 1/2 an acre. Most store fronts are 2000 ft2 or so. The rate of $12 per year is very cheap compared to what commercial rental space was going at 5- 10 years ago when it was closer to double that. Depends on whether it is class A or lower, but retail space is not very expensive these days. Even the Ann Arbor downtown is a shadow of its former self. Trouble is that today's economy has depressed retail sales quite a bit too. So, rent's still expensive in a relative sense.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 4:22 p.m.

I don't know how they have managed to stay open this long. We much prefer to get videos directly rather than having to run out to a store and then run back to return them on time.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 7:40 p.m.

I agree JustCurious, it is very convenient to get them mailed or to download. Netflix is very good at the turnover, getting your DVDs to you quickly. Not the same as being able to get a disc quickly by walking into a store - if it is on the shelf - which seemed to be a recurring problem. What I do lament though, is how businesses like this are in a huge part responsible for eliminating jobs and businesses. Many jobs are gone due to technology. Take the music biz. I cannot remember the last time I purchase music from a person. I get it from an Apple computer on iTunes. The DVD stores are going the way of music stores. Not to mention all the folks in the support jobs. Photos, shipping, creating the disks, etc. Either not needed anymore at all or replaced by robots. Shipping jobs to other countries is not the only thing causing unemployment.

shadow wilson

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 4:29 p.m.

....and have ridiculous late fees attached to an item (disc) that costs literally pennies to make and store.Had they and other stores not held onto a biz model that was so obsolete mybe things would be different...or maybt not.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 4:20 p.m.

Borders, thought they'd never fail.....but they did. They failed to innovate in a rapidly evolving competitive landscape. Actually there is no excuse for that. When you have resources, name recognition, customers, etc. the failure to innovate rests squarely in the laps of management. .....what were they looking at when Amazon, BN, Netflix, etc. came from nowhere to eat them for lunch?


Fri, Dec 23, 2011 : 2:53 a.m.

Blockbuster has online streaming, blue boxes, and mail rentals that you can return and exchange in store. They are not going under, but this is part of the &quot;reinventing&quot; process. They need to shut down the stores. Do some thinking.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 8:24 p.m.

Borders failed because it strayed from the model the Borders brothers used to build company. When Borders went public they started playing the &quot;satisfy Wall Street&quot; game, which is not good for ANY retail company that wants to be around for any length of time. Borders in their day was the brick and mortar Amazon. You could walk in, find any title, and take it home right then. For that convenience is was acceptable to pay a little more. The downfall was when they started being judged by stupid metrics like inventory churn which led to substantial narrowing of their offerings and eventual loss of their dedicated customers.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 6:54 p.m.

If I own a tractor company I will probably not start making jets when the tractor business slows down. There are myriads of companies that at some point out live their usefulness!


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:40 p.m.

Lack of know how is the part that's unforgivable. If you don't have the know-how....go out and acquire it at any cost. Why? The very survival of your business is at stake. That's the problem....existing companies hold on to their business model with a tight grip until they finally let go...then its too late. No doubt.... running a business today is much harder because evolution is no longer slow and measured. Rather it is mutating at a speed never before seen. Those - once successful business models - that fail to keep up this pace are gone at a breathtaking pace. The gravitational pull of change around evrything (politics, business, relationships, etc.) move so fast today that there is absolutely no time to pause and reflect. ....scary.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:19 p.m.

And, now, the Netflix model is under siege. The disc in the mail idea is being supplanted by streaming. Netflix got on board then alienated its customer base with its sudden price doubling, klutzy rollout of separate websites for discs and streaming, inability to order discs from the streaming system, all the while still giving only a poor selection of streaming movies--mostly grade B stuff and sending out very scratched and worn discs it refuses to replace. It also didn't get a good contract with one of the film suppliers (can't recall which). Now it is facing Amazon as a new competitor. That's an example of when an existing entity finds it hard to change the business model--not for lack of desire but for lack of know-how.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 5:02 p.m.

I agree with that mostly. However, there are a lot of mature companies (APPLE - who's stock almost tanked to zero) that re-make themselves because management is forward thinking, open to new ideas and not resistent to change. Borders and Blockbuster obviously were not in this category. True...not uncommon.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 4:45 p.m.

What they were looking at is new business models that are a lot dofferent than the one they are and were heavily vested in. What I am saying is, is that it is easier for a startup with a fresh idea than it is for an existing company with a huge infrastructure to change gears, and lets not forget or shrug off how quickly this all happens these days.


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 4:11 p.m.

Who knew they were still open?


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 9:03 p.m.

Thank you for putting it so nicely Jason. Im sure as my alias reads my true feelings would have been removed from this blog (ie: not a news source).


Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 8:36 p.m.

How about the people who are going to lose their jobs, or the people I see going in and out of there when I'm nearby? Having worked there, I know it was a popular spot as short of a time ago as last year. People know, people will miss it.

5c0++ H4d13y

Wed, Dec 21, 2011 : 6:13 p.m.

Yea. I thought they were all closed.