After 30 years in business in the Maple Leaf neighborhood, Seattle’s last family-owned video store is closing its doors. Reckless Video will hand over its last rental DVD on June 27, and begin a liquidation sale July 1. Its last day in business is planned for July 31.
Owner Mike Kelley, reached by phone on Wednesday, said it was a reluctant financial decision. “It’s just a numbers game and there just aren’t enough people coming in to shop,” he said.
Lately, he’s been renting maybe 30 to 50 movies a day; it needs to be closer to 100 to support the business. Though expenses are low — Kelley’s family owns the building, as well as the Ace Hardware next door, and Kelley hasn’t drawn a salary from Reckless in years — the business just didn’t make sense any more. A four-month pandemic closure didn’t help.
In an age of streaming, the movie rental business has become marginalized, Kelley said. “This isn’t Netflix’s fault, they just showed up to the party. Everyone wanted to dance with them. That’s what’s happened. That’s your dance partner now.”
With Reckless’ impending closure, Scarecrow Video — which has operated as a nonprofit since 2014 — would become Seattle’s last video store.
As of now, Reckless is shifting to three-day rentals (previously all but the newest movies could be kept for seven days) on everything in the store, and will no longer accept new member sign-ups as of June 12. Kelley says the drawn-out goodbye is so that customers can have time to return to the store one more time, or to use up their prepaid movie passes. He’s hoping that by the end of June, pandemic restrictions for the store will be eased, to better facilitate the closeout sale.
And while Kelley’s moving forward with plans to shut the store down, he and his staff haven’t entirely ruled out another possibility. “We’re open,” he said, “to miracles.”