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Photo via Scarecrow Video's Facebook page.
Photo via Scarecrow Video’s Facebook page.

It’s no secret that the rise of digital content has put physical movie rental stores like Blockbuster and Hollywood Video out of business. The folks over at Seattle’s famous independent Scarecrow Video joint have felt the digital impact on its bottom line as well, but now employees may have a solution that will allow the legendary 26-year-old store to keep its doors open.

Scarecrow today launched a Kickstarter to raise money for The Scarecrow Project, a new undertaking that will transform the store into a non-profit organization. If the $100,000 funding goal is reached, owners Carl Tostevin and Mickey McDonough will donate Scarecrow’s entire movie collection for the new endeavor.

scarecrowvideo12“We are so grateful to our community of film-lovers for all the support we have received, and we cannot imagine a better outcome, or more deserving stewards of this unparalleled collection,” the owners wrote.

The non-profit idea will allow continued public access to the world’s largest archive of movies of more than 120,000 titles. That likely wasn’t possible if Scarecrow continued operating as a business, with the company seeing a 40 percent drop in rentals over the past six years — a decline “more dramatic” than Scarecrow’s owners had anticipated.

The Kickstarter money will be used to support Scarecrow’s transition as it becomes a non-profit.

“Most importantly, your generous donation is not life support for a dying dream … it is an investment in the future of physical media in film history,” writes Kate Barr, a founding board member of the new organization. “Scarecrow Video never has been a museum piece and with your help never will be. It is a shared vision, it is living organism, which needs your love and support in order to thrive.”

The non-profit will partner with the nearby fellow non-profit Grand Illusion Cinema, which will serve as a fiscal sponsor for The Scarecrow Project. The new organization also plans to offer memberships, volunteer opportunities, more events, and educational projects.

The Kickstarter campaign, less than a day online, is already at 33 percent of its funding goal as of Tuesday afternoon.

As to those who wonder why, with the advent of streaming services, something like the Scarecrow needs to exist, the store offered this answer:

As cinephiles, we love these services for their convenience but no matter how good they get, there are certain to be countless films that are left behind. Thousands of movies and TV shows may never make it to streaming services or even new formats like Blu-ray, but as long as the Scarecrow Archive has, say, a VHS copy, they can remain available. Our customers are able to watch virtually any movie they want, not the ones a megacorporation picks. In this way the Scarecrow Project remains dedicated to making sure the community has access to the broadest possible collection of motion pictures in the best available format. For many films, today, that means DVD/Blu. Tomorrow, who knows?

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