A laser disc player sits on one shelf, a VHS player on another. In one drawer a collection of remotes, Nintendo controllers and even a pair of Duck Hunt pistols lie in a tangled web, relics of a lost age condemned by technological advancement. As the marching drum of progress propels humanity forward, casualties of change lie battered in its wake.
After 25 years, Star Vision Video is closing its doors. The Lloydminster video rental store served the community for a quarter-century, but it was at the end of last year that owner Shirley Thompson, faced with increased competition from online outlets, decided it was time to move on.
“It was a really hard decision to make, (but) we had decided this is right time to close the doors,” she said. “It really is the right step. There’s just so much technology out there ... you have to know when it’s time.”
Since February Shirley has been liquidating her stock. She says she has 15,000 items available for purchase, but it’s not just the movies that are getting all the attention.
“The interesting part is the nostalgia for the (Nintendo 64 video game system). It’s the 25- to 35-year-olds that are coming in every day looking for my 64s and not a lot of them are left,” she said. “Even the neon signs are spoken for at this point. One customer actually would have liked my outdoor signs for his garage. It’s just nostalgia.”
Star Vision Video opened in 1989. Thompson says the 1990s were the shop’s peak years, when the only other places for watching movies were theatres or on specialty television channels.
“Years ago when we started, on Friday nights we couldn’t put the movies back on the shelf fast enough,” she said. “We would have stacks and the customers would just take them off the return before we even got them out onto the shelf. And you knew a good snowy Friday was going to be a fun, fast day because there weren’t other options ... the video store was where you went.”
Star Vision Video did manage to outlast rental behemoth Blockbuster Video, which filed for bankruptcy in 2010. Thompson credits Star Vision’s longevity to its “small corner-store feel” and community involvement. The store has regularly contributed to the SPCA and on April 13 the store made its final donation to the shelter. Being independent also meant that Thompson had full control over the store’s selection.
“We have a great documentary section, so it isn’t just the top movies that were coming out. We could bring in smaller specialty movies as well,” she said. “And there’s a little bit more personality with a smaller store than there is with your big chains and I think that’s what can make a difference.”
From the comments she’s been receiving it is evident that Thompson has made a difference in her community as well.
“They’re sad we’re leaving just as I’m sad to be leaving,” she said. “They wish we were staying. They would like to see the store continue but understand that everything has a time, and a time to move on.”