Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Contributor Post: Suncoast Motion Picture Company, Lloyd Center, Portland, OR

For today's post, we'll be taking an expedition up to the northwest - to Portland, Oregon, in fact - in order to tour one of the few remaining Suncoast Motion Picture Company locations! This store tour comes to the blog courtesy of our friend Northwest Retail, who made a well-documented trip to Portland himself recently. He'll have lots of photos from that trip coming to his blog soon, but in advance of that, he kindly sent along these photos of the Suncoast store he visited. So let's jump right in!

Northwest Retail captured and sent along these photos primarily so that they could serve as a follow-up/companion to my January post, For the Record (...Store). In that post (if you haven't read it yet, or if you need a refresher), I discussed some of the various trade names that Trans World Entertainment has amassed over the years. Trans World is likely best known as the owner of FYE, but they also operate other stores under several different brand names as well, including Sam Goody and Suncoast. These two were once chains of their own, often with competing stores in the same malls (as was the case here in Portland's Lloyd Center!), but at the end of the day they both ultimately wound up under the Trans World umbrella, with their few remaining locations these days no different from an FYE in everything but name.

It is perhaps surprising that Trans World keeps these stores with non-FYE brand names open without rebranding them, but one could argue that the company is keeping them as-is in order to keep the trademark alive (for if they "abandon" it, they can no longer claim ownership of it), or that they're simply too lazy to change the signs out. Whatever the reason, it's exciting to see one still hanging in there!

Northwest Retail is much closer to one of Trans World's "other brand" stores than I am, so he thankfully bit the bullet for us in this scenario :P  In these two photos you've been taking a look at the store's facade, as it opens out into the mall hallway...

...and here, we're looking down at the store's tiled entryway, which is very cool and bears the Suncoast Motion Picture Company name/logo. This sort of thing can be found at some FYE stores as well (such as the former location at Wolfchase Galleria in Memphis), but remember, I don't think Trans World has opened any new Suncoast stores since assuming ownership of the brand. So, this is a "competing chains" thing, not a "sister chains" one.

Heading inside, here's the view straight back toward the rear of the store. These stores usually aren't terribly large, and this one is no exception. Still, it's cool to see the unique Suncoast interior décor still surviving.

One example of said décor is this movie marquee style sign found in the store's back corner, featuring changeable letters and chasing lights. The lights may not work anymore, but the changeable letter board certainly does! Suncoast was using it to advertise a message about a store promotion. I'd assume this may be a permanent message, but I have no way of knowing that for sure.

Looking back up toward the entrance, we see roughly how the store's merchandise is divided: pop culture stuff in the front, and physical media (DVDs, CDs) in the back. The exception to this is that additional pop culture merch extends across the perimeter walls in the back as well.

Not surprisingly, pop culture merchandise is how physical media stores are trying to stay alive and relevant these days. This applies not only to Trans World's fleet of stores, but also chains like Books-a-Million, Barnes and Noble, and GameStop.

These two images show examples of the DVDs to be found at this onetime movie hub; note how a majority of them are used copies, indicated by the orange stickers. It would seem much of Trans World's remaining in-store selections of physical media these days are used copies like those shown here.

Also noteworthy in these two pics are the two differing styles of shelf-topping signage ("Comedy" in blue vs. "STAND-UP COMEDY" in black). In addition to adjusting their merchandise mix over the years, Trans World has also played around with numerous décor packages in recent memory, sometimes switching them out within mere months of introducing them, it seems. We saw some of these same examples at the Spin Street store in Memphis (another Trans World "other brand" store, which has sadly now closed, rendering the trade name extinct).

Speaking of Trans World's décor flip-flopping, in this shot we see an example of wall signage I've never seen before! Thus, I can only assume it's yet another new décor package, rolled out to all of Trans World's stores sometime in the past several months...

We see more of that new wall décor in this image, looking down one of the DVD aisles toward the back wall of the store. (Hey, a customer! Nope, this place wasn't totally dead, Northwest Retail reports - just "mostly" :P )  This shot also showcases the Funko selection at this store.

Obviously, if this décor is new, then we're not able to see any of the store's original signage. But as I said, plenty of other, non-signage elements that are original do look to remain intact at this store, including that marquee board I mentioned earlier, the black ceiling and slatted upper walls, and of course, the entire storefront.

The original slatted upper walls I mention can perhaps be best made out in this pic, looking toward the store's checkout counter. Northwest Retail shared, "I was worried about getting pictures in a store like this, but when I got there, there was only one employee (working behind the counter) and several customers poring over the DVD selection, and by the time I left, another employee had gotten there and the two of them were chatting about pop culture stuff, so I doubt they ever noticed me!" He also noted that Lloyd Center as a whole is "a super nice mall, busy and in a great location, but from a store vacancy perspective, it’s nearly a dead mall, which I really wasn’t expecting to see." That, too, might explain why this store has been able to survive as a Suncoast so long as opposed to rebranding to FYE or closing outright.

Before we exit the store, here's a double pump of shots looking at the Suncoast logo sign hanging above the exit doors, which of course is awesome to see :)  I'll echo the things below it that say "Wow!" and "Dope," haha!

Heading back into the mall corridor, here are two final shots from Northwest Retail of the store's facade. Again, it's very cool to see an intact Suncoast Motion Picture Company store still out there, and even cooler to unexpectedly find them in my inbox one day! Thanks again to Northwest Retail for sharing these with us :)

Remember, Northwest Retail got plenty of other photos on his Portland trip, so be sure to keep an eye on his blog for those to be posted in the future. And, if you have any contributions of your own that you'd like to share, our inbox is always open at midsouthretailblog [at] gmail [dot] com. As for now, I figured I'd close out this post with a handful of other photos I found on Google Maps of this same Suncoast store, including (if it cooperates with me!) some embedded 360° views. Enjoy!

This one in particular validates my argument about how the signs are changed out every so often. You'd think that would be a wasteful expense to a company like Trans World that's trying to stay afloat, but hey, no one asked me...

Since my January post, one further Trans World "other brand" store has closed (the Second Spin in Costa Mesa, CA), rendering yet one more brand extinct. This leaves only Manifest (Charlotte, NC), Spec's Music (Hato Rey, PR), Coconuts (Evansville, IN), Sam Goody (Medford, OR, and St Clairsville, OH), and Suncoast (Omaha, NE; Eatontown, NJ; Beaumont, TX; and this store in Portland, OR) operational, according to FYE's official store locator (there may be more, but if so, I don't know how to find them all!). It's not hard to imagine even more of those locations closing sooner rather than later, so if you're near one, be sure to enjoy it while you can! And until next time, as always... have fun exploring the retail world wherever you are!

Retail Retell


  1. Yay, thanks for getting these pictures up so quickly! Those embedded panoramas are pretty cool too, didn't know you could do that!

    1. My pleasure, thanks again for sending them along! And ha, I didn't either, I learned that from reading The Market Report :P Somehow Zachary is able to embed his to where they'll tilt with my hand movements when I'm viewing his blog posts on my phone, but I can't seem to achieve the same effect. Oh well, I'm surprised I was able to get this far XD


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