Retirement, not market forces, shuttering Everett’s last video rental store
Perry Irvine, who opened Silver Lake Video in 1985 with wife Lelia, looks at a library of DVDs in his store Dec. 6 that far exceeds what’s findable through online streaming services. He is closing shop in January so both can enjoy retirement.
EVERETT — The smell of buttered popcorn wafts in the air. The walls are adorned with paintings of film icons and movie posters from years past. The carpet pattern evokes a movie theater; there’s a multitude of racks and shelves filled with DVD and Blu-ray discs to pick up and handle while browsing.
Silver Lake Video, the last brick and mortar video rental store in Everett, is closing the curtain on its run after more than 33 years in business. Owner Perry Irvine is retiring, and the store is having an everything-must-go sale before it shuts down in early January. Besides selling off its remaining stock of movie and television titles — numbering 30,000 as of Dec. 20 — the store’s posters, display racks, and business equipment are for sale as well.
Irvine and his wife Lelia opened the store together in April 1985, renting out laserdiscs, Betamax and VHS tapes. Originally situated where the Bartell Drugs is in the shopping complex, Silver Lake Video has been in its current space since 2002. “Our business has gone up and down, but we’ve always survived quite well, and we just shifted with the times,” he said.
Martina Pfarr said that she has been coming to the store intermittently for the last 15 years. “I think it’s sad, that this is like one of the last (video stores) that I know of and it’s going out of business,” she said. “I’m glad that it’s (a retirement) as opposed to that they’ve been run out of business.”
Jerry Battista recalled coming to the store since it was in its old location in the complex. He said that he’d miss “that neighborhood feel and it’s the mom and pop store, and they’re just closing left and right, which is really unfortunate.”
Irvine has watched the rental industry transition from videotapes, to digital discs and now on-demand video services.
“Our biggest battle was actually not with streaming or the internet,” he said. Irvine described the greatest threats to his business as being the rental industry’s “first sale doctrine” battle with movie studios to have the right to rent out the movies, and also “when the big corporations decided to come in, Blockbuster in particular and Hollywood (Video),” he said.
Irvine remembered that at one point there were seven corporate chain stores located within a five mile radius of Silver Lake Video. Irvine called his abilities to adapt and forecast the movie tastes of customers keys to his success. “The business has changed, it’s changed dramatically, we had to change with it, but it’s been a long run and a good one.”
Gar Borbe has been coming to rent movies with his children Garrett and Sabrina, both of whom are now in college, since they were infants. “We’ll miss them and really it’s the last of the old vestige of the old school neighborhood Silver Lake,” he said.
Yvonne Seeber has worked at the store for 19 years and said she will need to take some time to weigh her next employment options. She’ll be missing more than a job. “My customers, I’ve watched most of them grow up, have kids, their kids have kids, get married,” she said. “A lot of them are extended family, so it’s going to be a little tougher on that aspect more than anything.”
Christina Proffitt said she was a customer before she got her job at the store six years ago. “It’s the end of an era,” she said, “especially when new customers come in and they say, ‘You know, I didn’t know any of these existed.’ ”
Irvine said his wife hasn’t worked at the store in years and is retiring from her job at the end of the year. He said, “33 years is plenty, and so when she decided to retire, I said, ‘Do the same.’” He didn’t even try to sell the business.
In retirement Irvine indicated that he’ll stay busy. “I’ve got a ‘honey-do’ list that’s about five years long, so I’ve got plenty to do,” he said.
The store is located at 11014 19th Ave. SE, in the Silver Lake Center, and can be reached at 425-337-1050.
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