Tom Casey, Dallas-based Blockbuster’s chief financial officer, was in New York City yesterday to lay out the company's fiscal future during the two-day-long Thomas Weisel Partners’ Annual Consumer Conference. And Casey made the case that Blockbuster's stores, of which there are several hundred fewer today than there were a year ago, are the future -- because of, well, you know, those downloading kiosks and that DVD dispenser. And, look, if you order something off Movielink, Blockbuster's recently purchased Netflix alternative, and you want to watch something else immediately, you can always swap it out at the store -- Blockbuster's biggest advantage over its online competition.
Problem is, the stores are starting to look shabby, which is why they'll get a makeover. And with that dress-up, along with those new terminals, will come the inevitable: rental fee hike. --Robert Wilonsky