Netflix may be done sending people DVDs through the mail, but that doesn’t mean the rest of us have to be satisfied with streaming all our movies. This week, one of the world’s largest independent DVD rental stores in the country announced it’s coming for Netflix’s scraps with its own over-the-mail DVD rental service, and though it might cost more than that now-defunct service, it makes up for it with the utter variety of movies on offer.
Scarecrow Video, located in Seattle, Washington, is one of the largest independent—and still-existing—video rental stores in the U.S. As reported by the folks at ComicBook.com, the independent retailer launched its own Rent by Mail service. New customers need to make an account, though membership may take days since each is reviewed by an actual human.
Scarecrow has a long legacy going back to the 1980s, and since then it has amassed a library of well over 146,000 titles, according to the store’s own site. By comparison, Netflix streaming users in the U.S. have access to a library of around 6,000 movies and TV shows, according to data compiled by the VPN Surfshark. More than half of those are Netflix originals.
New Scarecrow RBM users can browse the company’s vast movie collection for any available films. The rub here is that users have a 14-day window to watch their content, and that includes the time it takes to ship. Though it is priority mail, which does promise shipping of between one to three days, and in tests Scarecrow said it usually takes around three days for these DVDs to reach the east coast.
Users can check out up to six DVDs or Blu-rays per order, and each flick costs a varying amount running from $3 all the way up to $11, depending on the number of discs contained in each box set. USPS shipping fees are a flat rate of $12 per order, and each package comes with a pre-paid return mailer plus the discs supplied in a hard plastic case. Most of the retailer’s stock is available for rent by mail, but the listings don’t include anything that’s on VHS or otherwise rare and out-of-print material. Late fees are worth half the total rental price paid.
Scarecrow is the last living video rental store in Seattle, and since 2014 it’s existed as a 501c3 nonprofit and was declared a cultural museum by the State of Washington in 2019. According to local reports from the time, the shop tested its mail-rental service back during the pandemic. Owners raised a few hundred thousand dollars from fans and locals to revamp their website and start their order-by-mail business.
Even though it’s still a relatively small operation, independent retailers may be able to keep mail-order DVDs around despite old-school rental companies like Redbox moving more into streaming. Netflix is letting its last users keep their final DVD rentals before the service goes bust, but anybody new looking for more physical media in their life might have to go with mom-and-pop shops like Scarecrow if they want to once again hold their physical content in their physical hands.