RIP Third Man Video — At least you outlived the Broadway Blockbuster

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.”

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14 thoughts on “RIP Third Man Video — At least you outlived the Broadway Blockbuster

  1. Video stores have pretty much gone the way of the telegram. The store kiosks days are numbered too. It’s all at your fingertips online, and often for free.
    The next battleground is who’s got the better offers online. Netflix sucks! I am dropping them because I can easily get a better choice from numerous websites out there for free, though it may not be copyright legal. Netflix cut their own throat with their greediness by having the same movies posted four months in a row. They need to stream all movies or else go under.

  2. I still use Third Man, but sporadically. I’ll miss the convenience (I don’t stream online), but I can’t blame them. They’ve been a great neighbor.

  3. I love “On 15th Video”. Please support that store. We need these types of small owner operated stores to exist people. Don’t we?

  4. Here’s the thing- you are demonizing the good guy in this all. The problem is and has always been content owners(the huge studios, which horrifically have now also our internet providers) trying to kill services like Netflix by asking for *way* to much in negotiations. Netflix is the good guy offering a very reasonable price for a huge unlimited access to a very big library. People like you who think you somehow deserve movies and TV shows for free are also part of the problem. A lot of people do put in hard work to produces the shows you watch, and they deserve to get paid *something*. Sense of entitlement, much?

  5. I am not trying to demonize Netflix, they’re losing business because people don’t want to do the mail thing for the stuff they want to see. They also want an extra fee. You Tube has just as good a selection and they offer streamed movies for free or for a few bucks. Netflix’s mail thing is a pain in the ass. What they offer for streaming changes minimally month to month.
    I or no one else deserves to watch movies for free, but it’s there and they usually have the movies I’d like to see that Netflix doesn’t. Some of these sites are probably illegally doing this, but not sure You Tube is. If Netflix wants to stop losing business, they need to stream all there movies and change the selection much more.
    It’s sad to see video stores hurting, but like Kinko’s, Western Union, and a few other business chains, technology making it more convenient just hurts them.

  6. it’s also important to point out that Broadway Video is moving across into the old Locksmith space in the 500 block of Broadway. After all these years, they’re being forced out of their space too. DEFINITELY important to patronize these small outfits.

  7. I hope the “grown folks” you’re referring to include “Think About It”. Everything else is just so much ‘something for nothing’, and it’s not sustainable.

  8. “If Netflix wants to stop losing business, they need to stream all there movies and change the selection much more.”

    What you obviously don’t realize is that it’s not just Netflix’s decision what is available to stream, and what isn’t. The big film studios won’t grant Netflix the right to stream all movies. Some they’ll let them both stream and rent DVDs, and some they’ll only allow on DVD. That’s part of why some films are not available to stream. And before everyone gets too excited and pronounces DVDs dead, and “long live streaming”, don’t forget– streaming videos requires data bandwidth. Cable and DSL providers are moving towards putting caps on data downloads. That has the potential to greatly impact Netflix’s streaming movies business model.

  9. How in the heck is getting a DVD in the mail and being able to return it in the mail whenever you want a pain in the ass? Because you have to pry yourself away from your computer?

  10. Jim S,
    Not privy to the internals of Netflix as you are. Just like many, am ignorant of the points you strongly made, especially regarding bandwith. A frequency range has only so many bands and video eats up a lot of space. Good argument Jim, and thanks for sharing.