Be kind, rewind

Sad news came out of Transcona this week when owner Glen Fuhl announced that his business, Video King, would be closing after 40 years.

It might sound silly or old fashioned to lament the death of the video rental store in the age of streaming. “Can’t you find everything on Netflix or Prime?” No, you can’t, but that’s beside the point.

My sadness around this isn’t merely rooted in nostalgia for my childhood neighbourhood video store (Lasertek Video in Selkirk, thank you very much), nor in my bitterness about the fact that I now live a two-minute walk from where Movie Village once stood.

Despite the convenience of streaming, it’s an extremely flawed system. Availability of titles can be extremely limited. Streaming services like Netflix prioritize original content and new releases, so movies older than 10 or 15 years are often missing from these platforms. Some movies are available to rent for around $5 from Amazon, YouTube, Google Play or Apple TV. But I’d much rather put that $5 into a local business than a faceless corporation.

And then there are the movies that aren’t available digitally at all. In the past week, at least half a dozen times, I’ve had a hankering to watch a movie to find it is completely unavailable. These range from older foreign films (1971’s Sacco & Vanzetti), Hollywood oldies (1970’s The Phantom Tollbooth) and 21st-century entries in popular franchises (2007’s Hannibal Rising).

Without the video store, viewers are left to resort to piracy or buying the movie physically. I’m a collector of physical media myself, but discs can be expensive, and I don’t need a BluRay of All the Fine Young Cannibals on my shelf forever.

What I need is my neighbourhood video store.

Published in Volume 78, Number 22 of The Uniter (March 21, 2024)

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