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Published November 11, 2013, 07:58 PM

Blockbuster in Grand Forks closing, store now selling remaining stock

Store will start selling off remaining inventory today Support services provided by Blockbuster, like information technology, will be cut off early next year.

By: John Hageman, Grand Forks Herald

The Blockbuster in Grand Forks will close by the end of the year after all.

Dish Network, the ailing video store chain’s parent company, announced last week that it would close its remaining 300 Blockbuster stores early next year. The Grand Forks and Bemidji locations appeared to be safe because of their status as franchise stores.

But Kevin Seeger, general manager of North Central Management Group, which owns and operates the two locations, said Monday they have since found out support services provided by Blockbuster would be cut off early next year.

“The locations that we have remaining are performing well,” Seeger said. “Unfortunately, (Dish Network) is closing the IT or software support unit. And therefore we won’t be able to manage member accounts, process transactions or do anything like that.”

That fast-approaching deadline made it infeasible to launch its own system locally, Seeger added.

The store started selling off its remaining movies and video games Monday. It will be open from noon until 8 p.m. every day during the liquidation process, which Seeger said may take four to six weeks.

Seeger said Blockbuster has offered to convert their franchise agreement into a license agreement, which would allow them to continue using the brand name.

“However, there are so many unknowns,” Seeger said. “And that, coupled with the software problems, we just couldn’t withstand that interruption of business.”

Seeger said there are about 30 employees between the Grand Forks and Bemidji Blockbuster stores. The latter would have been the last one remaining in Minnesota had it survived the mass closing of the chain’s stores.

Seeger said the Grand Forks store, located at the corner of 17th Avenue South and South Washington Street, has always been their largest and busiest location. Opened in July 1992, it is also North Central’s first.

Seeger said they’ve opened 18 Blockbuster stores in North and South Dakota, as well as Minnesota.

“So this will be the last store in the system to close,” he said. Seeger said there are no immediate plans for the space that will be left vacant.