Warren Wise // The Post and Courier
Blockbuster is closing two Charleston-area stores, including its longtime location on East Bay Street on the peninsula. The company has been hurt by rival services such as Netflix, the Internet and video-rental kiosks.
If you are holding onto a gift card from Blockbuster, your time is running out to redeem it.
The bankrupt video rental company will not accept its gift cards after Wednesday, according to a brief statement on its website.
"Effective as of April 7, Blockbuster GiftCards will no longer be honored," the message says.
The company could not be reached this week to elaborate.
The announcement comes ahead of the once-mighty retail movie giant's auction Monday in New York.
Blockbuster filed for bankruptcy protection in September, a victim of the shift away from selecting a movie from its stacked shelves of new releases and old flicks. Consumers found it easier to pluck films on disk out of a mailbox or a vending machine in the local supermarket or even via cable or high-speed Internet through the advent of new technology.
At the time of the bankruptcy filing, Blockbuster was a shadow of its former self. The once-ubiquitous chain was down to 3,000 stores, less than a third of the peak of 9,100 in 2004.
In December the chain said it planned to close 182 more in the next few months.
At least two of those are in the Charleston area. The store on 334 East Bay St. on the peninsula and another at 7398 Rivers Ave. in North Charleston will go dark April 10.
"It's kind of sad," Randall Williams of West Ashley said while searching through marked-down deals Friday at the East Bay store.
"It's just a sign of the times," Michael DeAntonio of Charleston said while looking for a bargain at the same shop. "It was bound to happen with all the competition from Netflix and others."
Several bidders are set to duke it out for Blockbuster Inc. at Monday's auction. They reportedly include Dish Network and billionaire investor Carl Icahn.
The movie-rental chain has received several bids other than the opening bid of $290 million from a group of debtholders made in February. Dish and Icahn each have submitted a bid, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.
Blockbuster once dominated the U.S. movie rental business. But it lost money for years as that business declined because customers migrated in droves to Netflix, video-on-demand services and rental kiosks.
Prospective bidders are either after Blockbuster's assets, such as its name, kiosks and movie-download service, or the money they can make from liquidating the brand, analysts said.
"The prospective bidders would have to believe that they can generate sufficient cash to provide payback plus a return on their investment," said Wedbush analyst Michael Pachter. "I am skeptical that a sale will occur at a price higher than was offered a few weeks ago."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.