All retailers have had to adapt in order to survive, but few had faced tougher odds than the video rental store.
One of the survivors is Crazy Mike’s Video, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary in Bellingham this month. The store in the Lakeway Center near Whole Foods will have some special deals and is giving out some of its posters to customers.
How a small video chain outlasted the likes of Blockbuster and Hollywood Video while competing with today’s streaming video technology may be hard to fathom, but in Bellingham it seems employing a couple of key retail principles has helped: building customer loyalty and making sure they have what the customer needs.
When the video rental business was booming, Crazy Mike’s had several stores in Whatcom County. The Lakeway Center store is the only one left locally; the company does have stores in other parts of the U.S., including Montana.
Manager Sean Marshall said they have been able to keep a loyal customer base by stocking the store with movies and television shows that are hard to find through online streaming services. Having promotions like $1.25 Tuesdays and tracking down hard-to-find movies has helped.
“I think a lot of people still enjoy the physical experience of going to a store and picking out a movie,” Marshall pointed out.
Customers also still like interacting with the employees, who are enthusiastic about movies and have plenty of feedback to offer, said Chris Hazenberg, the longest-working employee at the store, having started in 2001.
“It is great to have customers who come in and say, ‘We’re sticking with you,’ ” Hazenberg said.
Television shows have become a major component of Crazy Mike’s rentals. Binge-watching episodes remains very popular but a bit tough to do on one-day rentals, so Crazy Mike’s extended the rental period to five days, Marshall said.
The popular shows tend to be the older ones as well as ones that may not have much exposure in the U.S., like BBC shows. However HBO’s “Game of Thrones” remains the most popular, Marshall said.
With all the challenges facing the business, one in particular frustrates Marshall: Theft of some of their DVDs has become a recent problem, and it’s something they are trying to solve.
“It is a real bummer because often we don’t have the budget to go out and constantly replaces these (DVDs),” Marshall said.
Film is Truth is another video rental company that has also survived in Bellingham. The company became a nonprofit organization and earlier this month celebrated its 19th anniversary. It is in the Bellingham Public Market at 1530 Cornwall Ave.
Two Bellingham breweries take home medals
Chuckanut Brewery and Kulshan Brewery each won medals at the Great American Beer Festival, held earlier this month in Denver.
Chuckanut won a gold medal for its Chuckanut Helles Lager in the Munich-style Helles category. According to co-owner Mari Kemper, the Helles Lager has a fresh biscuit aroma and is golden yellow in color. It is the second time the Chuckanut Helles received a gold medal at the festival.
Kulshan picked up a silver medal for its Gose beer in the German-style Sour Ale category.
A Bellingham sign permit application was submitted for a new travel business. Expedia CruiseShipCenter is going into 2925 Newmarket St., Suite 108 in the Barkley District. ... The Big Box Outlet Store at 2119 Valencia St. is holding a moving sale, with the last day on Saturday, Oct. 22, according to its Facebook page. The store is moving to Marysville. ... Greene’s Corner is having its final day at 5305 Northwest Drive on Oct. 22. The store and pizza place is moving to 2208 James St. in Bellingham. According to its Facebook page, the business is planning to open on James Street sometime in November. ... The clothing store Fringe is celebrating its first anniversary on Oct. 22 by having a 20 percent off sale but will also have some 50 percent off coupons hidden within the store, according to its Facebook page. The store is in the Herald Building at 1147 N. State St. ... The women’s clothing store Betty Be Good Boutique has opened its second Whatcom County store at 1301 Bakerview Road, Suite 105. The company also has a store in Birch Bay Square. ... Labels Women’s Consignment Store is offering $5 coupons to women customers who get mammograms this month at Bellingham’s Mount Baker Imaging. The 2,500 $5 coupons are being handed out during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. No minimum purchase is required, according to a news release. The company has two stores in Bellingham, at 2332 James St. and 3927 Northwest Ave. For details, call 360-738-0333 or visit labelsconsignment.com.