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As movie rental stores disappear, one group wants to keep its collection in Bellingham

Bellingham store closing after 23 years.

Crazy Mike's Video is closing their Bellingham store after 23 years in Bellingham. The store is selling all their videos.
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Crazy Mike's Video is closing their Bellingham store after 23 years in Bellingham. The store is selling all their videos.

While renting movies from a brick-and-mortar store is disappearing, there’s one group that wants to preserve that option in Bellingham.

The announcement earlier this month that Crazy Mike’s is closing its Bellingham movie rental store means the last big collection of hard-to-find movies falls to Film Is Truth, which is turning itself into a nonprofit.

In order to complete the transition, the organization has put on a variety of fundraising events, including a funding account on Indiegogo and events at the Wild Buffalo and the Shakedown. The goal is to raise $18,000, and the group is about halfway there, said Emily Martson, part owner and a member of the board.

Film Is Truth has more than 19,000 movie titles at the Bellingham Public Market at 1530 Cornwall Ave. That collection includes hard-to-find options that don’t show up on streaming, Martson said.

Martson said having a physical collection is still important, particularly given how the streaming market works. Many streaming companies use a catalog format, offering a certain number of titles in a given month. If a parent wants to show their children the movie “Mary Poppins,” it might be hard to find on streaming channel in a given month, Martson said. Film Is Truth also continues to add new releases to its collection, including Oscar-nominated films. It also has a collection of television shows available.

“Streaming serves a purpose, but if you have a favorite movie you might not be able to find it,” Martson said.

Martson hopes Film Is Truth becomes more than just a place to rent a movie – she’s hoping the organization will organize community events, such as showing movies to students or creating clubs where people can talk about a movie. The organization is also working with Bellingham Film and Talking To Crows to host the Bellingham Film Annual Showcase at 6-9 p.m. on Feb. 1 at the Pickford Film Center at 1318 Bay St.

“Movies are great for starting conversations and we love to do that,” Martson said.

Part of the transition has been tough. Film is Truth moved from its space on Holly Street to the public market in September 2015. That resulted in a sudden drop in customer traffic, something the group is still recovering from, said Karl Freske, who runs the day-to-day operations.

The organization is putting more effort into getting the word out, particularly with the fundraising events. As it solidifies itself as a nonprofit, Martson believes Film Is Truth will be viewed as a valuable community resource, particularly with fans of hard-to-find movies.

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“I feel optimistic that this will work as a nonprofit,” Martson said. “I feel like Film Is Truth has a lot of goodwill in the community.”

Anna Wolff, board president of the organization, said she’s cautiously optimistic about its long-term viability.

“We have good people working for us, but the challenge of operating a brick-and-mortar store is still there,” Wolff said.

What gives her optimism is that the community understands the value of keeping physical media available. She points to the existence of Village Books and Henderson Books as examples of people knowing that not buying everything online has its benefits.

Along with tax-deductible donations, people can also become members, Wolff added.

For details about the organization and its events, visit its website filmistruth.org or its Facebook page.

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