The community loan dispenser is the latest trend in the Little Free Library movement

“We have DVDs, VHS – there are a lot of them, and it’s fun,” said Cyrus Zamani, small business owner and Oregon City resident.

When your job is to set up stages, lights, sound systems and tents for weddings and concerts, you might be tempted to take a break rather than take the time to share the love of cinema with your neighbors. .

But it’s all fun for Zamani, who owns an event production company called The Party Factory.

“We call it the Free Blockbuster,” Zamani said. “It’s a community lending library – it’s full of videos, take one, leave one type. There’s one a block and a half away for books.”

Founded in 1985, Blockbuster had more than 5,000 movie rental stores nationwide before declaring bankruptcy in 2010; only one store remains in Bend, Oregon.PMG PHOTO: ETHAN M. ROGERS - Free Blockbuster booths often use the logos of a movie rental company that went bankrupt in 2010.

With hundreds of locations across Oregon, the Little Free Booksellers have been a staple of Portland-area neighborhoods for years, but moviegoers have yet to reach the same scale here in the Pacific Northwest. with only seven free Blockbusters in the state currently. The bright blue and yellow color scheme and Blockbuster logo radiated from the lending library to match Zamani’s smile.

“We put the logo on it and painted it in the appropriate colors,” he said.

Zamani got the idea for the movie lending library from a former Blockbuster employee turned pop culture savior who declared the first free Blockbuster in 2019 by converting an abandoned LA Times newspaper distributor into the first free Blockbuster.

Much like the Little Free Library movement, the Free Blockbuster website has a map of all franchise locations. They also sell supplies for the aspiring Free Blockbuster owner, although purchases are not necessary to have a Free Library Franchise location. The website offers free downloads of printable labels that you can affix to your own refurbished free movie dispenser.

“We see films going slowly. Every week or so I go out and try to make sure there are no unwanted films and put some good films in there if we have them. I think that ‘Right now there are Disney movies,’ Zamani said, opening the door to this miniature blockbuster, reaching inside and pulling out DVDs and VHS tapes.

“There’s kind of an assortment here, there’s horror movies, I think, what do we have here?” Zamani asked, holding a copy of 2010’s “MacBeth.” Patrick Stewart’s bald head evoked Gen X nostalgia for Captain Jean Luc Picard looking up from the DVD cover, though Stewart in his role as MacBeth was older on the DVD than he was as the dashing middle-aged Star Trek captain.

“It’s just a bunch of old movies,” Zamani said. “Films of people’s basements as they clean up their things, or if you have one you’re sick of, pull it out and swap it for something else.”

The neighbors seem to like it, according to Zamani. The free library is located next to a block of mailboxes, which makes it convenient. “If you’re walking around, take a look and see if there’s anything you like,” he said.

“I was then thinking of doing toy cars. Hot Wheels. Maybe start a whole mall — make it a series,” Zamani said. “My neighbor was talking about opening a Hollywood Video to compete with me. We’ll see what happens.”

Free Blockbuster

Where: 19350 Hazel Grove Drive, Oregon City.

Online: FreeBlockbuster.org


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