Dear Scarecrow Customers,
This Saturday, October 19th, is International Independent Video Store Day. Yep, that’s a thing, and here at Scarecrow we celebrate it in a big way. If you’re interested, you can learn more about it here, or you can just come on in for deals, prizes, screenings, and more!
It also provides us an opportunity to bring up something that’s decidedly less fun. You may have seen the recent Seattle Weekly article by Mark Rahner, here. 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 expanded our sales sections for both new and used movies, it’s now one of the largest in-stock Blu-ray sales inventories in the area. We’ve opened VHSpresso, serving some of the best coffee (from 7 Roasters), tea (from Teahouse KuanYin), and chai (Tipu’s Chai) around, as well as sodas, snacks and beer. We’ve created a seating-area/screening room/event space where we show films throughout the day and we hold events like book signings, filmmaker talks, and Tuesday night Geeks Who Drink Trivia. We’ve got a whole calendar full of events! We’ve brought in movie posters, film-related toys, books, and soundtracks on vinyl. 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!
So, that’s where we are. Thank you for reading this, and we hope to see you Saturday, and maybe even a couple times a month after that! And you’re more than welcome to come visit us on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!
Carl Tostevin and Mickey McDonough
Owners of Scarecrow Video
*Oh, and because we get this question all the time, no, we can’t stream our movies. We don’t own the rights to the films, and obtaining those rights is simply out of our (or anybody’s) reach.
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