It really hasn’t been that long since the days when video rental shops were commonplace and frequented by basically everyone and anyone that enjoyed a relaxing night at home with a good movie and a jumbo-sized bag of Doritos. This, however, has changed. Throughout the years we have all watched the video store slowly lose its all-mighty place in the entertainment realm and die. The most notable shutdowns being the closures of Blockbusters and Rogers Video, the final nail in the coffin, so to speak.
It has only been a few months since the two giant corporations stepped out of the rental industry, but it is already clear that they left a gap –albeit a small one–for the independent rental shop.
They Live Video is the most recent shop to open their doors and make an attempt at bringing back the video rental. Located at Main and 28th Street, they are in a prime location to attract all kinds of people and make some noise at the same time. They Live Video is a project started by longtime friends Ben Jacques and Dan Shimizu. “I called Dan out of the blue one day and was like, ‘Hey you want to buy a video store?’ Five months later, here we are,” says Jacques. The video store they purchased was Cinephile, one of the many rental shops that threw in the towel after a long run battle against the Internet. Both Shimizu and Jacques had been previous employees at Cinephile, so when the owner put it up for sale they saw it as their opportunity to open their own shop and make it the best damn video rental store possible.
Using the former video store haven Happy Bats (R.I.P) as a pseudo role model They Live Video is hoping to draw in a younger crowd and re-introduce them to the once loved pass time of renting movies. “I want guys like me to come in and be like, ‘Whoa you have Conquest, crazy!’” says Jacques regarding possible clientele. Both owners acknowledge that getting the younger demographic in store and renting again will be the key to their success as they already have a pretty established middle-aged clientele. It can’t be ignored, however, that they too will face the challenge of easily available online content, which is largely accessed by techno-savvy youngsters.
“People are going to download and you can’t stop them from doing that. If they really want to see a movie, they will. It’s like music, if you like it you go out and get it, we just want people renting again,” says Shimizu. So, in order to get people out of the street and into the shop, They Live Video will be putting on events in order to bring attention to the store and slowly nuzzle their way into the local community.
Already the shop is heading in the right direction. Just last month they hosted a show for the local music festival Music Waste, bringing in young adults from all over the lower mainland. As well, They Live Video will be hosting video game nights with all the classic consoles and every first Wednesday of the month they will sponsor a ‘Bad Movie Night’ at the Little Mountain Gallery. It has been just over a month since They Live Video opened their doors and so far the response has been positive according to Dan Shimizu: “Once we opened, people just started coming in again, it’s been great.” When asked why people should come and check out They Live Video, Jacques stated simply: “It is cheap and easy to rent from us. For less than five bucks and less than five minutes you will find something you like.”
By Natalie Bridgewater