Just in time for tomorrow's International Independent Video Store Day, some terrible news from Seattle's Scarecrow Video:
It is a difficult time to be a video store, and the past several years have not been kind. Our rental numbers have declined roughly 40% over the past 6 years. This isn’t a huge surprise—obviously technology has been moving this direction for some time—but the decline has been more dramatic than we had anticipated.
We’ve responded to the changing marketplace in pretty much every way we know how to....We’ve added rental specials and date night and family package deals. We’ve increased our on-line presence and web sales. We’ve cut our operations costs as much as we can. But even as we try to offer our customers new and interesting reasons to come in, we simply are not generating enough traffic to support managing and maintaining the world’s largest collection of films. Hence this open letter.
Scarecrow Video is a labor of love. Everyone involved here does what we do because we love this place and what it represents: Uniting People With Film, access to film and film knowledge for everyone. Scarecrow has never been about making money, but it has to support itself. It’s no longer doing that, and hasn’t for a while.
We’re still in this fight, but there is a very real possibility that this will be our last Video Store Day celebration. We are committed to continuing through the holidays in the hopes that the changes we’ve made to our store and our operations will be enough to convince you, the customer, that Scarecrow and its unparalleled collection are worth saving. Ultimately, it comes down to whether people think it’s worth it to come back. So many people say to us, “I love you guys! I used to go in there all the time!” Lately that has included, “What can I do to help?” That’s simple. Come back in! Rent a couple of movies once or twice a month. Pick up a new Criterion film and have a latte. Buy something from us on-line. Come play trivia and have a beer or two, or come to our events. Let us help you find a movie you didn’t even know you’d love!
Read the whole open letter from Scarecrow owners Carl Tostevin and Mickey McDonough here, and confidential to Paul Allen: Please consider buying Scarecrow Video, leaving it where it is, and turning it into a museum/library. Think of it as the cinema wing of the EMP. Thank you.