In 1985, the first Blockbuster opened in Dallas, Texas. By the mid-2000s, there were over 9,000 stores worldwide. Now, there is only one, and a Plano man helps keep the be-kind-rewind dream alive. 

Plano’s Dave Carrera was one of the first customers at the original Blockbuster. According to The Dallas Morning News (via Jack FM), he was customer number 2,027 and still has his original membership card. “Back then, of course,” Carrera told The Dallas Morning News, “renting videos was the entertainment of the day.”

Carrera went from renting videos at Blockbuster to working there, joining the McKinney office and overseeing computer operations for 6,000-plus stores. But with the rise of streaming, Blockbuster branches closed, and in 2013, all company-owned stores shuttered. Thirty franchises remained but they still needed computer infrastructure. Carrera offered his expertise.

“I reached out to the front of the remaining franchisees and said, ‘Hey, if you want to still keep going, I’ll support you,’” said Carrera. The dated software needed a fix, and at Carrera’s Plano home, he and some former staffers gathered to create a much-needed update, making it possible for him to oversee the centralized computer system. 

Now, there is one Blockbuster left in Bend, Oregon, and it still uses the made-in-Plano updated software. “I’m literally taking parts out of old systems, almost like a junkyard,” said Carrera. “I’ve got a finite amount of equipment, and I’m shocked that it’s lasted this long.”

“There’s this long goodbye,” he added. “Then it’s the challenge of keeping it going.”

Carrera has visited the last Blockbuster once. “It was everything I was hoping,” he said. “It’s like time stood still because you walk into the store and the smell, the view, the setup, the configuration — it’s exactly the same as it was when I visited my last store here in Dallas.”

Brian Ashcraft

A native of North Texas, Brian Ashcraft previously lived in Japan for over two decades. He has authored six books, including the award-winning Japanese Whisky and The Japanese Sake Bible. Prior to joining...