Tumwater Video, a 20-year-old DVD- and video-rental business at the Southgate shopping center, has fallen victim to competition from alternatives such as Netflix and Redbox and will close at the end of the month or in early April, its owner said today.
Tae Wook Shin, 52, bought the business in September 1991. Business was very good in the 1990s, but once online DVD-rental businesses and cheaper alternatives set up shop, rental activity began to slow, Shin said.
Tumwater Video isn’t the only movie-rental outfit that has struggled as the media business has evolved. Blockbuster filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last year, and so has the parent company to Hollywood Video, which has closed all its stores. Netflix, formed in 1997, had 20 million subscribers as of December 2010, according to the company’s annual report. Redbox, which rents its movies from kiosks, charges only $1 per movie. Netflix doesn’t charge late fees.
Shin said he has mixed feelings about the business closing. Part of him feels regret, but another part is relieved that he finally can move on, he said. He no longer is renting movies, and all of his inventory – DVDs, VHS tapes, video games, marquee movie poster holders and racks – is for sale, Shin said. At one time, the business had about 10,000 titles; that number later fell to about 2,000, he said. He already has sold a lot of his inventory after putting up “going out of business” signs.
Shin said his best year was 1996-97. Many good movies were released then, he said, and it was a time when on a Friday or Saturday night, long lines would form at four checkout areas. At its peak, the business had eight employees, and by then it had moved to another space within the Southgate shopping center, doubling its size to 4,000 square feet.
During those years, the business flourished, landlord Dave Gubbe recalled. The business also got its start about 10 years before Shin bought it, Gubbe said.
“He was always a very good tenant for us, and he kind of grew with the community,” Gubbe said about Shin.The Tumwater Video space likely will become available in mid-April, he said.
“We’re open for a new tenant to come in, but at this point we haven’t located one,” Gubbe said.
Once Tumwater Video closes, Rainy Day Records downtown will be one of the few places locally that still rent movies. Store manager Adam Hardaway said the movie-rental portion of the business is small and that it’s offered to customers as a “labor of love.” He also said that those who rent movies from Rainy Day likely get movies from the library and Netflix, too, but they come to the store to browse new releases.
Rainy Day offers the type of movies that might be shown at the Capitol Theater, as well as a section that focuses on directors, Hardaway said.
“We meet the Friday-night needs,” he said.
Tumwater Video is at 5131 Capitol Boulevard, and its hours are 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays.
Rolf Boone: firstname.lastname@example.org/bizblog