For Rent

Classic Video, video rental, dvd rental, Kingston, OntarioStroll down Clarence Street on any given Friday night and know you are passing into a local hotspot and native entertainment history as you close in on Classic Video. The two-level rental store is nothing short of amazing with its endless shelves of flicks and new releases of every genre lined wall-to-wall. Yes – a local movie rental store has beat the odds of surviving against the digital movie revolution and Netflix generation.

Owned and operated by Tom Ivison, Classic Video has been renting out movies to Kingstonians since 1987 from 40 Clarence Street, long surpassing any other hometown rental shop in city. The longstanding establishment is home to over 45,000 DVDs and is filled with the old-school charm of adults and pre-teens alike, fingering through movies late at night as they prepare for a cozy night in. In other words, this movie headquarters is staying relevant in an age where we don’t need to leave the house anymore to have access to movies.

It is no secret the once competitive national rental company Blockbuster was forced to shut their doors nationwide in 2011 after a longstanding war with digital downloads in Canada. Just drive down Queen Street and pass by the abandoned building once full of cars and a glowing blue sign. Of course, new – and very controversial – ownership of the U.S. Blockbuster chain also contributed to the mass shut-down to the popular rental shop, however it is now fact we can achieve immediate access to movies with digital devices and laptops – enabling us to shun the rental franchises and in essence, save money. Even Roger’s Video took themselves out of the rental business after monitoring a decline in movie rentals.

Can movie renting survive in a city of only 120,000 people?

Programs like Netflix and Cogeco On Demand have eliminated the need to go out of your way and “rent” and are now booming in Canadian cities. Consumers essentially have a rental store at their own disposal and with most films, viewers can even sneak-peak the trailers while choosing a film – all without leaving the couch! These rivals put up a competitive barrier to stores such as Classic Video, surpassing the need for physical disks.

That being said, Classic Video is arguably more than just a rental haven. Perhaps being able to read about a film and imagine it is an experience on its own movie-watchers look forward too. Not to mention, Classic Video’s catalogue of movies is worth digging through and can be argued has a more impressive range of films than that on Canadian Netflix.

It is also nice to have movie experts share their own thoughts on films and give some insight before you pay a few bucks in the colourful shop. The folks at Classic Video have always been willing to give recommendations and reviews! Maybe the atmosphere and sheer history of Classic Video can keep the Kingston establishment in business. But will DVDs be around forever?

This then strays from a local conundrum to a global catastrophe for shop owners similar to Tom Ivison. DVDs have been around since the late ‘90s and we’ve all watched as online streaming effortlessly invades the internet and continues to hover above the cracks of legal restrictions. Only time will tell where the digital age will take us, and how that will translate at the local and global scale.

Thanks and credit to Dawn D for the photo displayed in support of today’s post.

Meg Lyons

Meg Lyons has retired as a contributor to Kingstonist. She was once Kingstonist's resident ecoholic, who wrote about sustainability as it pertains to the local food movement, transportation and life in Kingston. She is borderline cat-crazed and a self-acclaimed duck whisperer.

3 thoughts on “For Rent

  • My family absolutely LOVES Classic Video. It has such a great atmosphere and friendly staff. Our family has Netflix, but we continue to go to Classic Video just to support the store. It is nostalgic, homey and comforting for people looking for something long lasting in a fast paced world. With all the downtown closures of local businesses/restaurants, we have to support our hometown favourites.

  • Streaming like Netflix and on demand do NOT carry the great independent films, foreign films. classics hard to find as this store does. This store is a gem and not at all like Blockbuster was. It was often difficult for a film buff to find certain films at Blockbuster but, Classic Video was always up with what film festivals and indy's were doing and had a ton of great foreign films too. Classic is a great fit for Kingston and I hope they are open for a long, long time! Until Netflix catches up and offers the variety and quality this store does then I wont' be relying on Netflix to get the films I'm looking for since they are never there.

  • Classic Video is one of my favourite places to go in Kingston. The prices are right, the selection is great and the staff is super friendly and helpful. I love supporting this local business!

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