Another Capitol Hill video store is hitting stop and pushing the eject button. Shane Benson Aungst confirmed with CHS that the partners behind Third Man Video have decided to pull the plug on their independent video operation.
“We’re sorry we have to go but we just have to be able to pay ourselves more,” Benson Aungst said about the decision. “The store is profitable. I’m just tired.”
He tells us E Pine’s Third Man has remained profitable since its move to the Hill from Pioneer Square in 2010 but that the business mix of 50% rental business, 50% online sales via channels like Amazon, wasn’t profitable enough to justify the effort any longer. Benson Aungst, who also works as a bartender and ran an online business before starting Third Man, said he’s not sure what he’ll do next.
The video rental business has been rapidly transformed by online services and automated kiosk vending. Earlier this year, the Broadway Blockbuster location was part of a nationwide pullback by the company that left the location shuttered. The Blockbuster remains empty and has become a graffiti covered mess in the subsequent months. The 2009 closure of the Hollywood Video has also left a mostly empty space on Broadway. Indies 15th Ave Video and Broadway Video continue to hang in there — in fact, we’ll have more on Broadway Video’s new location later this week — though another store on 15th Ave shut down in 2010.
Benson Aungst said Third Man saw an initial bump when the Blockbuster shut down but that the gains were fleeting.
“It helped us for a week or two — and then it just dropped off,” he said.
The decision to shutter will be, at least for the rest of the summer, an opportunity for movie fans as the Third Man inventory of thousands of titles is liquidated. The goal, Benson Aungst said, is to be able to clear the store out by the end of August. He suggests you consider targeting their Criterion collection, strong gay and lesbian inventory and a “ridiculous” collection of television titles. Prices will drop as the summer drags on but the selection is best right now. You can check out their Third Man Liquidation Sale Facebook event to keep track of the action.
It’s too early to say what will fill the space next at 606 E Pine. A boutique filled the retail unit prior to Third Man. Next door, Mexican restaurant Fogon is under construction in the old Kiki space. By the time the 108 units in the newly constructed Terravita apartment building just down the street start filling up later this summer, Third Man will likely be shutting its doors.
As for the remaining independent video stores on the Hill, Benson Aungst says his only advice is to keep changing. “You have to adapt to the market. I still think the market is there,” he said. “Just adapt. Sell on Amazon. Do what it takes.”