BUSINESS January 8th, 2017

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Video rental biz still thrives on Avenue

Thirty-six years and counting for country's oldest video store

You might wonder how a video store could possibly remain in business today.

However, Videoflicks at 1701 Avenue Rd. — calling itself the “oldest video store in Canada” — proudly boasts a membership of 28,000 and is still going strong.

It’s thriving because some people aren’t interested in downloading movies and still like the experience of coming to a video store, say owners Joe Carlino and Steve Cohen.

Many prefer having an entire season of a program at their fingertips without having to scroll through a movie channel guide. Services like HBO and Netflix eat up data and often there aren’t many good movies to choose from without paying extra for a new release on top of the monthly fees.

However, Videoflicks’ owners realize the store may not be around forever.

It has been in the neighbourhood for 36 years and continues to increase its customer base, but the “future of the industry is very grey,” Carlino says.

“When we lose new product, that is what will end our business,” he says. But for now, Videoflicks “isn’t going anywhere.”

With better grade DVDs now available, Videoflicks is able to offer top quality movies from film festivals and major television series and events. Scripted television has caused an evolution in the industry. Writing is better and A-list actors are appearing in television series, making them more desirable to rent.

Many collectors also still like to purchase movies. The store sells lots of old DVDs and Blu-ray discs at bargain prices. The products are popular because they don’t age on the shelf as the old VHS tapes did.

The store draws business from the local neighbourhoods, as well as from elsewhere in the city, especially from commuters who pass through after coming off Hwy. 401.

Carlino says that much of their success is due to purveying knowledge to customers and the atmosphere they have created in the store. Personality matters in this industry and they really get to know their customers and their individual movie tastes.

Customers also get treated with free popcorn while they browse. (And free dog biscuits for pets.)

Customers never have to wait in line even when it’s busy, which is one of the store’s number one priorities. Reservation pick-ups are smooth and all available movies are on the shelves in visible plastic cases so people don’t have to ask whether they are actually in, which helps speed things up.

Movies older than six months go directly downstairs to what they the Library, whereas new releases stay on the upper level, all in easy-to-find categories.

Customers can also reserve movies months in advance, including new releases. Membership is free and rental prices have remained the same for eighteen years.