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Customers surprised as Blockbuster closes doors

On a lunch break Thursday, Roy Martin of Tampa peered into the windows of Blockbuster Video at the Shoppes of Boot Ranch. The doors were locked, the video return slots taped shut. A sign said, "Please visit our Enterprise or Westchase location. Thank you!"

Inside, the videos, DVDs, popcorn and candy languished on the racks.

"Are they closed?" Martin asked.

He read the sign across the window that beckoned, "Get free rentals all year long, join today."

"But they are closed?" he said.

Customers of the Blockbuster location have been wondering why the store is closed, when and if it will reopen and how to return their DVDs and videos in the meantime.

Blockbuster Inc. spokesman Randy Hargrove said the store closed Jan. 31 for renovation and repairs and will reopen once those are completed.

"We are looking at a water problem that we believe caused damage to the ceiling," he said. "And along with that, we are addressing an issue of rodents that were present above the ceiling of the store."

The rodent issue appeared to be an isolated one. Other stores in the shopping center contacted by the Times said they had not seen any rodents.

Hargrove said the company apologizes for the inconvenience and referred patrons to two other locations, both roughly 3 miles away, at U.S. 19 and Alderman Road and McMullen-Booth and Enterprise roads.

He said Shoppes of Boot Ranch customers should hold onto their DVDs and videos until the store reopens. They won't be charged late fees, he said, and if they do get any postcards, they should disregard them.

"We'll just try to reopen as quickly as we can," he said.

Friday, workers were repairing the ceiling and a Terminix Commercial of Tampa employee was on the site.

Elisha Premru of Palm Harbor, toting two DVDs, was disappointed when she read the signs and realized the store was closed.

"Why don't they have a reopening day?" she said.