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Posted on Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 11:15 a.m.

Landlords await word on whether Blockbuster bankruptcy will close Ann Arbor area stores

By Paula Gardner

Local impact from Blockbuster Inc.'s bankruptcy filing this morning won't be known for at least a month, local landlords said this morning.

The Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing called for the troubled video rental chain to keep its 3,000 stores and kiosks open while it reorganizes.


Blockbuster Inc. is looking for new strategies, like its "Total Access" program that includes a mail option, to compete with Netflix.

Source: Blockbuster Inc.

However, it also will be evaluating those stores for ongoing viability as the chain - and its industry - grapples with technology shifts and new business models, like Netflix, that are changing consumer habits.

Local Blockbuster landlords said the bankruptcy has been expected for several months.

"We'll wait and see what happens," said Chris Grant, vice president of First Martin Corp. The company leases a 7,000-square-foot store to Blockbuster in Traver Village on Plymouth Road.

"They're going to be closing some stores," Grant said. "But we haven't been in touch with anybody about that yet."

Other area Blockbuster stores are located in Woodland Plaza, 2248 S. Main, in Ann Arbor; 2547 Ellsworth in Ypsilanti Township; 1305 E. Michigan Ave. in Saline and 1145 S Main St. in Chelsea.

The bankruptcy filing asks a federal judge to approve the reorganization plan that includes an investment of $125 million in financing after bondholders exchange $1 billion in debt for equity in the restructured business.

"After a careful and thorough analysis, we determined that the process announced today provides the optimal path for recapitalizing our balance sheet and positioning Blockbuster for the future as we continue to transform our business model," said CEO Jim Keyes in the filing.

That level of investment indicates that Blockbuster may depend on its store locations to drive business while it shifts distribution methods, experts said.

Tom Goldberg, an owner of Woodland Plaza, agreed with Grant that the filing was predictable.

"Anyone who's in our business was of the opinion that it would an event that would happen sooner or later," Goldberg said.

Under bankruptcy law, Blockbuster now can accept or reject all of the company's leases.

"Then they'll either continue under the terms of the lease or terminate," Goldberg said.

Blockbuster locations tend to be high-profile retail spaces in high-traffic locations, he added.

While waiting for the chain's real estate representatives to make contact, Goldberg has been starting to seek a potential replacement tenant for the store at the corner of South Main and Ann Arbor-Saline Road.

"There are no discussions going on, but we're pretty confident if we get the space back, we'd be able to lease it to good tenants reasonably promptly," he said.


Jack Tucker

Sat, Sep 25, 2010 : 8:03 a.m.

Thanks, but I want to know what channels I could get without cable. Jack Tucker

Jack Tucker

Fri, Sep 24, 2010 : 12:18 p.m.

I have a digital converter. Living in Saginaw, what channels could I expect to receive if I had an antenna and a rotor?


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 10:19 p.m.

We stopped those over priced movie theaters years ago. My mother does the library and we use to do PPV. We don't since they now charge $5 a movie. I love Net Flex. I can watch what I want when I want it. Either on line or sent to us. Personally I love not having to return anything and get charged for it. We got zapped by the library when we returned a video a day late. $1 a day per video. 5 videos? Forget it. So, bye bye Hollywood and Blockbuster. No more out outrageous fees.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 9:06 p.m.

wow 1985-2010


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 7:39 p.m.

There was a time when we all used Blockbuster for our VHS rental needs, but they did not adapt to the changes of the times. Several years behind on Netflix, two years behind on Redbox, free videos at the library, and video on demand they just could not compete with. I also knew several people who worked at Blockbuster stores all over the country and sadly, the company did not treat their employees too well either. Oh well, let's just see how this plays out. Meanwhile, I'll keep renting from the library while also streaming from netflix online.

Rob Pollard

Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 3:34 p.m.

One thing about the library: it always bothers me (esp. when it's librarians) who say things like, "Come to the library. You can get books/dvds for free." That discounts the value of library's services. It's not free. It's tax-payer supported. The avg AA homeowner pays well over $100 a year to support the library. For some, that's a real deal, as perhaps the "rent" one video a week, check out scads of books, attend free seminars etc and you end up paying about 50 cents a video. But it's not "free"; put it this way: if Blockbuster charged you $149 a year, and then you could check out/access online as much as want, would you say it was "free"? /end of rant


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 2:03 p.m.

Paula - I'm with you, only one step further - we don't have cable, we have the ole' TV antenna with the rotor and can get FIVE PBS stations, including Canada, and if we want to watch a movie we go to the LIBRARY to check one out for FREE. I can't remember the last time we "rented" a movie!


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 12:17 p.m.

Never been a fan of Blockbuster either but I didn't want to see them go under. It just means less choice for the consumer and more jobs lost. No real winners here.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 11:43 a.m.

Blockbuster Total Access is very poor also. The movies take forever in the mail and lots of shipping errors. You can exchange in store but they have no inventory except new release movies. They also charge to stream and change the rules at whim. Netflix has them beat in every way.


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 11:22 a.m.

Agree with EyeHeart. Blockbuster had such rediculus fees and nonsense, I'm glad their gone also. Hollywood figured it out a little earlyier but it was still too late. I mean really people, it's a DVD. It costs 10 cents to make.

Paula Gardner

Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 11 a.m.

@michiganpoorboy, Actually... and I'm not embarrassed to admit this... I bypass all forms of on-demand and am happy to request DVDs from the library!


Thu, Sep 23, 2010 : 10:57 a.m.

Who rents videos now. We all have pay per view.