Blockbuster closing for good

WHEELING The only Blockbuster video store within 30 miles of Wheeling will close its doors for good on March 25, making way for Wheeling Firefighters Local 12’s planned gambling parlor.

Store Manager Jessica Prater said Thursday that she knows little about the decision to close the store. She said building owner Jonathan Bedway at the end of January gave the franchise about two months to vacate the property, electing not to renew the lease.

The store, located at 1000 National Road in Woodsdale, began liquidation on Jan. 30. Signs on the front show the phrases, “Everything Must Go” and “Store Closing Sale.”

“A lot of our customers are furious,” Prater said, noting it is “the only video store around.” She said patrons also are upset because some part of all of the space likely will house limited video lottery machines.

Prater added she heard customers say they are unhappy about the planned gambling establishment’s proximity to Vance Memorial Presbyterian Church, less than 1,000 feet away.

Regarding the video business, Prater said unlike many Blockbuster locations, the Wheeling franchise has been a “money-making store” and would stay in that location if possible. She added the company has no plans to relocate the store.

At a city development committee meeting in December, Local 12 President Dave Palmer first presented the “coffee shop with a gambling parlor” plan and sought designation as a “development/redevelopment site.” The designation, approved by City Council last month, would allow such a location to exist less than 1,000 feet from a church, school or residence.

In the original proposition, Palmer and Wheeling Coin owner Gary Glessner said Blockbuster sought to consolidate and only use half the space. The parlor would then occupy the other half.

Palmer said Local 12 does not plan to sell alcohol, but rather snacks and soft drinks.

Bedway was not available for comment this past week.