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Blockbuster Video to Close in April

The Blockbuster on Jericho Tpke. is one of several locations in the area to shutter next month, joining two other major chain closings.

Large, bright yellow signs declaring "Store Closing" have sprung up in front of the in Commack, signaling the store's demise.

Such signs are becoming a common sight for residents, as Blockbuster's closing marks the third of a major chain in Commack, as and announced in February they would soon be shutting their doors for good.

An employee at the Commack location said the store would be closing "some time in April," but was unable to provide an exact date.

Several nearby stores, including Smithtown, Shirley and are also on the chopping block and bear the yellow closing signs.

A Smithtown Blockbuster Video employee, who spoke under anonymity, said the signs say “This Location Only” because not all Blockbuster locations are shutting down. The signs are perhaps an attempt to dissuade customers from thinking Blockbuster Videos stores everywhere are closing.

Last September, Blockbuster confirmed that it had voluntarily filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The company had been negotiating with its bondholders to restructure its finances and come up with a strategic plan to transform the way it does business. However, on March 11 Blockbuster announced that a judge in U.S. Bankruptcy Court had approved a plan to put itself up for auction.

Blockbuster is facing an assault from all types of smaller services. Rivals such as Netflix and the Redbox DVD and Blu-Ray vending machines seen in grocery stores and outside 7-11 stores have cut into territory Blockbuster used to monopolize. Amazon.com's Instant Video service and Apple's iTunes also offer video downloading straight to your computer.

Combine those options with websites like Hulu that offer streaming video and customers now have a variety of choices aside from traveling to a brick-and-mortar location.

The company made an effort to compete with the Netflix model offering its own Blockbuster by Mail service along with adjusting its pricing plans at its stores. At one point it eliminated late fees only to bring them back last year.

Ironically, it was Blockbuster that in the late 1980s and early 1990s put Mom and Pop video rental stores out of business across the country.

An employee of the Shirley location, who also spoke under anonymity, said the Huntington Station, Huntington, Port Jefferson Station, Center Moriches, Water Mill, Coram, Patchogue and Holbrook locations would remain open.

Calls and emails to Blockbuster Video corporate offices were not returned by time of publication.

Editors Lon Cohen and Peter Verry contributed to this story.

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