The Future of CD/DVD Rental and Retail Stores in Kingston

CD and DVD rental and retailGrowing up, I have fond memories of crawling through the local video rental stores on rainy days, picking out choice scary movies for birthday parties, and anxiously anticipating the VHS release of movies 4 to 5 months after their appearance on the silver screen. I was at the front of the line when DVD players came onto the market, paying way too much not only for the player but also to convert the bulk of my movie collection over to the new format. The entertainment industry has seen many changes since then including the triumph of Blu-Ray over HD-DVD, as well as the success of numerous online streaming and downloadable content providers. The latter has forever changed the way we consume media, resulting in widespread closures of corporate behemoths such as Blockbuster and longstanding local independent mom and pop movie rental stores (CD Exchange). Accordingly, this week’s poll asks:
[poll id=”91″]

The proliferation of cheap and convenient online music streaming and download services coupled by the disappearance of the music retail store, make the buying of physical CDs a less desirable option for today’s music enthusiasts. As a result, CD sales have dropped by 50 per cent since their peak in 2000. A lot of today’s younger consumers don’t even own a CD player and even fewer are attracted to the prospect of buying or collecting CDs.

In spite of the widespread appetite for digital content served by the likes of i-Tunes, Netflicks and others, the perseverance of Brian’s Record Option, Classic Video and even Chumleighs are signs that there is still a local demand for physical media.   I mean, the fact that they’re still putting CD and DVD players in automobiles has to count for something, right?  Can we expect independent niche stores to survive in the long run, or is it only a matter of time until physical media rental and retail will vanish in Kingston?

Thanks to aka_zoe for today’s photo.

Harvey Kirkpatrick

Harvey Kirkpatrick is Kingstonist's Co-Founder. His features curiously explore urban planning, what if scenarios, the local food scene and notable Kingstonians. Loves playing tourist and listening to rap music. Learn more about Harvey...

10 thoughts on “The Future of CD/DVD Rental and Retail Stores in Kingston

  • the closure of big box stores like blockbuster is good for independent stores like classic video. classic has been the best movie rental store in town for years, but has been hugely overlooked. it will now thrive and pick up the patrons from it's now defunct competition.

    isn't one of the best parts about this modern age diversity? some people like netflicks, other people like actually going to the store and discovering movies and documentaries they didn't know existed. we don't need to be herded in one direction like cattle. we get to choose what works best for us.

    classic video is a more sustainable business model. it's storefront is smaller, more compact, yet its selection is much broader than blockbuster. it's only product is film, not snacks and other junk. it's for the movie lover. it knows it's customer and it has a loyal fan base. i think it will do very well in the years to come.

    i don't know about you, but there's no way my mom will switch over to watching movies online :p

    • You make some great points, and certainly Classic Video is a gem. The only thing I would contest is moms (and pops) not switching over to watch movies online. What happens if too many of us start downloading and streaming our content? Manufacturers will eventually stop making CD/DVD players, or at least flooding the market with so many varieties. The other side to the equation is places like Classic Video who will experience less demand for their product. Sure some independents might be experiencing increased business as a result of Blockbuster's closure etc… but can that honestly be sustained?

      • I think it can. While VHS movies can’t really be purchased at any stores anymore, they’re still being sold and collected via kijiji, etc, and you can still buy combination VHS/DVD players. Personally, when DVDs first came out, I started collecting VHS movies. There’s not much wrong with them, and stores were basically giving them away. I won’t lie; I’m looking forward to converting them to electronic format, but the point is that I wasn’t the only one going after VHS movies after DVDs came out. I think the same will happen with DVDs. I think that there’ll always be a need for places like Classic Video, even if after a while they become “classic gems of our generation.” They may be seen like thrift stores, but they’ll still be there.

  • Classic is a perfect example that somewhere that will survive because it offers something more than you can get online – quirkiness, a fantastic selection, lovely people who work there, and ambiance.

    In contrast, take Sunrise records. Zero atmosphere, a completely inexplicable selection of stuff, and shop clerks who seem to know nothing about music (when I was last in there the guy behind the counter had no idea who Rich Aucoin was, despite the fact that his new album is creating waves all over the Canadian music media and beyond, and when I asked if they could get the album in, proceeded to look it up on Amazon!). You have to conclude, sadly, that it won't be long before this store will be changing its name to 'Sunset records'… unless they care enough to transform what they do.

    So what could a contemporary CD store be? It could be a place where people who love music meet and share their love of music, where the people who work there know and love music, where you might come across a band who are playing that night, doing an impromptu acoustic gig instore… in other words a place which is not just about soulless racks of random product. That would be a place I would be happy to support.

  • Zip has expanded their vending machines as close as brockville, so I expect we'll see them in Metro or basics here anytime now. $1 a night rental will be pretty hard for the stores left to compete with. I've seen one of the machine manufacturers quoted as saying they expect discs will be around another 5 years. I suspect that will be determined by how fast isp speeds and pricing progress.

    • Coming to a supermarket near you! $1/night is insane in comparison to what traditional rental stores used to/still charge. There used to be a rental store at Princess and University who operated on this model. They had a couple ATM-style dispensers, but it never really caught on. I suspect the Zip dispensers will be nothing more than a blip.

  • I remember the store at Princess and University that attempted the ATM style business model. It was very unfamiliar to most people at the time, and I remember their being an associated start-up cost that discouraged many potential customers. For the Zip business model to work effectively, it has to operate off of a credit card service, especially considering the risk of no-returns.

    Nonetheless, I would have to say that the era of the digital video disk is finished. Netflix and other on-line purveyors will surely make the business model simply too expensive for most to survive as production costs actually increase with fewer manufacturers and consumers in the marketplace. They will become a niche/specialized product, much like vinyl records.

  • Back in the mid 80's I arn a movie rental business that placed movies and VCRs in corner stores. ( In St. Catharines) This was around then Beta / VHS time period. During this time period a VCR was around $400-500 and a new movie around $90. Blockbuter was just starting to role out in some ares. Back then, they only carried movies, snacks and a few cables. Blockbuster did evolve to carry games and even tried online. Now, movies are so cheap ( compared to the 1980s ) that you can buy your own copy The big problem I saw with Blockbuster was the movies / sqaure foot. Yes there was a lot of open space but it was not being properly used. Classic video does use its space very well so thier revenue per dquare foot is better. If Blockbuster would off cut thier store size in half , perhaps they still would be here

  • The big movie making companies are doing their best to ensure that video stores don't stay in business. Recently Disney decided to hold back their new releases by a month. That is you can buy it or get it through video on demand or their website, but if you want to rent it in a store you have to wait an extra month before you can.

    A few of the big movie companies have started doing this in an attempt to force people to abandon video stores and buy directly from the supplier.

    Classic has been hit by this and it will likely result in some customers becoming frustrated as new releases aren't available to rent when they are to buy or watch on demand. Such a shame corporations feel the need to cut out the small guys just trying to make a living.

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