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Bellingham's local film store closes its doors after 25 years of service

Film is Truth 24 Times a Second said its final goodbyes to Whatcom County residents April 19

The interior of Film is Truth in downtown Bellingham on its last day open. This local film store closed its doors on April 19 after 25 years of service. // Photo by Michaela Camlin

Film is Truth has been a local attraction in Bellingham since 1997. For nearly 25 years, the store was a spot for people interested in finding unique films, VHS tapes, underdog filmmakers and those who watch movies on DVD. 

“We have been aware that the store was going to close due to insufficient funds,” Benjamin Owens, the operations manager of the film store said. “The store hasn’t been financially sustainable for a long time. Since we were a non-profit, it kept us alive for as long we were able to.”

Alexander Bruner, the founder of Intellitonic, a digital marketing company that serves non-profits nationally, said that running a non-profit requires community support and aid. 

“Intellitonic, our digital marketing agency, was founded with the mission to help serve non-profits and help them reach more of their marketing audience,” Bruner said. “Before I joined this company I did volunteer work in non-profits and I learned that it was enriching to witness passionate, and nonprofit sector people help me see what I needed to see.”

Film is Truth was a non-profit that was funded by donations and grants. Over the years, the funds dropped drastically, resulting in the closure of the store. With the store closing, many loyal customers are affected.

Kamarie Chapman, a Western Washington University professor who teaches film at the University and who was formerly one of the board of directors at Film is Truth has seen many film stores in the last 15 years shut down due to streaming platforms outproducing film stores with easier access to movies of all genres. Film stores that rely on revenue from their customers can not afford rent or utilities for their locations.

“With film stores being alive it made connections to people who cared deeply about the art of making films," Chapman said "My biggest fear is that the beauty of these filmmakers will be forgotten.”

Owens recognizes that although most of society has access to the internet or streaming services, some customers still rely on film stores for physical DVDs and hard copies of films. 

“Some of our customers did not have accessibility to the internet and the film store was a place for them to find physical copies of the film and watch it on their DVD players,” Owens said. “There just aren’t any places who sell or rent hard copy films anymore.”

Online streaming platforms pushed their subscription prices to a point at which no film store could compete. The price for a basic Netflix monthly subscription is $9.99 for a selection of over 3,600 movies and TV shows compared to an average Blockbuster DVD rental of $2.99 for one disk.   

It is important to recognize the number of different films that are available at video stores rather than on streaming services. Film stores have more of a variety of different producers and genres of film. 

“The biggest loss from this engagement is the self-accountability to find film and media that is outside of the corporate infrastructure,” Owens said.

Film is Truth was one of the last film stores open in Washington and will donate or sell most of their films. Check out their website for more information.

Michaela Camlin

Michaela Camlin(she/her) is a third-year at Western Washington University studying journalism focused on public relations, and reporting on city news.

You can reach her at

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