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Take a movie, leave a movie: Minnesota's newest 'Free Blockbuster' opens in Minneapolis

The box is open to everyone and the concept is simple: Take a movie, leave a movie.
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Most people are familiar with the Little Free Library concept at this point. Community members can either leave or take a book from one of the (often delightfully decorated) kiosks set up by participants along their yard or sidewalk.

Replace books with DVDs, VHS tapes and even LaserDiscs and you've got the gist of Free Blockbuster — the latest of which opened in Minneapolis last week.

Paul Zenisek held a ribbon-cutting and unveiling on Aug. 25 for his Free Blockbuster, stationed outside his store Heroic Goods & Games in Minneapolis (3458 Minnehaha Ave.).About 25 people showed up, and Zenisek called it "super fun.".

"The first movie borrowed from the kiosk was The Professional, on LaserDisc!" he added.

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The idea, Zenisek said, was not his. Free Blockbuster is a nationwide effort, with organizers saying the mission is to "combat the myth of scarcity by providing free entertainment to as many people as possible."

Zenisek's Free Blockbuster is the third in Minnesota, according to the online directory. The first opened in July in St. Louis Park, and was started by a friend of Zenisek's.

"I loved the concept so much, that then I decided to buy one as well," he said of his decision to put one outside Heroic Goods & Games. 

The other Free Blockbuster in Minnesota is in Burnsville, and opened in mid-August.

Zenisek's Free Blockbuster box fits 20-30 titles, depending on whether they're DVDs or VHS tapes (or something more obscure). While Heroic buys and sells movies as part of its business, Zenisek said the Free Blockbuster is separate. It isn't tied to store hours, and people don't need to check with the shop before taking or leaving a film.

"The box is meant to be there for anyone to use at any time, and I’ll maintain it, and add things if it gets low," he said. 

That hasn't been an issue so far. 

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Zenisek said turnover has been "great," with movies are taken or dropped off every single day. Someone even returned a DVD they'd borrowed, The Neverending Story. And he's not worried about vandalism, overstuffing or abuse of the box.

"I’ve had zero issues so far, and don’t expect too many to arise — the direct community that lives in walking distance from the store has already been the most receptive about having it here," he said. "Lake and Minnehaha is awesome, so hopefully this is one more small addition that makes it even more awesome."

You can read more about Free Blockbuster and find a map of U.S. locations here.

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