The Independent Video Store: How Does It Survive?

We all know about the steadily growing abundance of options out there in terms of renting movies.  Between the big names in brick and mortar like Blockbuster and Movie Gallery / Hollywood Video, and the various others like Netflix and Redbox, plus a whole host of names you wouldn’t ordinarily suspect along with a host of streaming video options, well, you pretty much can’t help but find a place to rent a movie these days.

But what about the little guys?  Back in the eighties, they were wedging video stores into everything back then.  And some of them are even still around.  So how do they face down the massive option overload that we’re looking at today?

Simple–customer service, and lots of it.

For instance, one of the greatest video stores known to mankind is Scarecrow Video out in Seattle, Washington.  Though their sales are down from 2007 levels, they’re not in any danger of shutting their doors.  They credit a wide selection–more than Netflix! (it’s true, by the way–Netflix claims about a hundred thousand titles, whilst Scarecrow carries roughly a hundred and thirty thousand)–and a knowledgeable staff to their success.

Video stores run on the concept of “managed disappointment”–a concept that basically says “we don’t have what you want, but try this instead”.  So the more the staff knows about comparable titles, the better the likelihood that a sale will be made.

So that’s how the indies are getting along…but will it be enough? Only time will tell.