It might be time to admit that movie and video game rental is a thing of the past.
After nine years of business in Windsor, the Family Video store at 1290 Tecumseh Rd. E. — the only Family Video location in Canada — is closing its doors permanently.
The store’s last day of operation is this Sunday, from noon to 8 p.m.
“We’re all highly upset about it,” said store manager Machele Shearer. “We love our jobs, we love this store, we love our regulars…. It’s that sense of connection.”
From DVDs to Xbox 360 games, Family Video has offered entertainment in a manner that’s now considered old-fashioned.
We’re all movie lovers here. We have our names and recommendations on the wall.
What’s Shearer going to miss most about the store? The personal touch.
“We’re like a little family here,” Shearer said about herself and her six staff members. “We’re all movie lovers here. We have our names and recommendations on the wall.”
“People come in and ask questions. ‘So-and-so was in a movie four years ago, but I can’t remember the title.’ And we tell them the movie. We tell them other movies by the same director.”
Family Video may have opened in Windsor around 2010, but the U.S.-based company has existed since 1978.
There are more than 550 Family Video locations still in operation, mostly in the U.S. Midwest.
With the closure of all Blockbuster stores in 2013, Family Video is the only movie and video game rental chain left in North America.
But Shearer admits that streaming services and other online sources continue to have a major impact on the customer base.
“There’s been an ebb and flow in our business ever since we opened,” she said.
Family Video’s Tecumseh location, which was at Lesperance Road and Tecumseh Road East, closed for good in January 2017.
That said, Shearer believes there’s still a market for those who prefer physical media and bricks-and-mortar stores.
“Even in the past year, we were seeing a lot of families,” she said. “It’s the nostalgia of it. Bringing the kids. Friday night movies and pizza.”
While Shearer appreciates the convenience of Netflix, she feels it’s “not the end all and be all.”
“Myself, when I’m on Netflix, I spend as much time searching as watching. I get so tired of searching, I go to bed.”
And if the last week of business at Shearer’s store is any indication, there are still people who want to own movies: She said the store’s clearance sale has attracted many visitors, with lineups at the counter on Christmas Eve.
“We are selling all the movies and games that we have left,” Shearer said. “Truly an end of an era.”
One final movie recommendation from Shearer: Her favourite flick for the holiday season, 1983’s A Christmas Story.
“An absolute favourite. Parts of it were filmed in Ontario!” Shearer enthused. “It captures that time of life that was simple, when families were families and Christmas was magical.”