By Megan Halliburton
Six and a half years ago, a dream came true for me. On a frigid January day in 2010, I opened the doors of my very own video store, Cinematopia, in Wolfville. It had been a labour of love getting the place off the ground, with a lot of hard work and a whole lot of help from fellow movie-lovers and local movers and shakers. What had started as an attempt to save Light and Shadow, the grand old institution started by the inimitable Bob Brown in 1989, ended up as the beginning of a beautiful new endeavour.
Times were already changing, but I didn’t want what is so special about the local video shop to die out without a good fight: the unique atmosphere, amazing conversations, browsing through actual shelves filled with inspiring choices, the depth and breadth of the selection from the beginning of cinema up to the latest new releases, random animated encounters with fellow cinephiles, sharing opinions and discoveries, taking a chance on someone’s recommendation or an intriguing DVD cover, or the unexpected rare find you forgot you wanted to see. These are some of the elements that make the video store experience magic.
I figured that Wolfville, this movie-loving town, was perhaps one place it could actually be sustained. With the recent news of the closing of Video Difference in Halifax, however, my thoughts have turned toward the future of my little Main Street shop. A quick google search led me to the bleak realization that Cinematopia is one of the very few dedicated movie rental stores still standing in Nova Scotia. Many people think that you can’t swim against the tide of change, that everyone is now streaming, using Netflix, to meet their entertainment needs. But I truly believe that a jewel of a shop like this should be able to weather changes in our culture; that true film buffs will always value a place that treasures and curates a collection like this. I often hear from people, after they’ve glutted on Netflix, that they just couldn’t find what they were looking for and ended up having to watch just any old something. Those dissatisfied with Netflix are grateful that a place like Cinematopia still exists. The big players seem to offer plenty of choice and the convenience of letting the entertainment kind of happen. But the choice is deceptive, because they just don’t have the expanse of titles we offer, and once all of we little guys are driven out of business, they will be the only option.
I have to tell you, it is getting harder for me to fight the good fight. I have cut my expenses to the bone, yet money is still exceedingly tight. I can see that soon I may have to admit defeat. I just want everyone to know that there is a choice to be made here. If people today really do value convenience over quality, low-cost over community, I will accept that. Before I do, I need to say this: that our choice now, may limit choice in the future. If Valley dwellers, and all Nova Scotians, really don’t want the resource Cinematopia provides, the sharing of knowledge, the variety of quality films, classic and rare, foreign and independent, we will have to close. That would be a shame, because once it’s gone, it’s gone. Once this precious archive is dismantled, there will be nowhere to find many of these gems, no physical space to browse and chat. It’s a community that will disappear. If you choose to not patronize this place now, it simply won’t be here in the future.
It’s really about options. By letting this type of local shop die out, our choices will be diminished. It’s a permanent and irreversible decision we’re making. I just need to be sure everyone knows it before I can accept it. I love this place. My passion is movies and I thrive on contact with fellow movie-lovers. I want to keep up the fight, but I need to know that people want this. And I need your support. Now is a crucial moment, for our town and for society in general. Once places like this are gone, they are gone for good, so what I want to you to do is to consciously make that choice and be prepared to stand by it.
Cinematopia is maybe the last independent video shop in Nova Scotia, and we have a precious film collection worth preserving for film lovers of the province. Anyone who misses their local video shop, can consider Cinematopia yours too. Order over the phone or email and we’ll send you up to 4 DVDs anywhere in the province for a reasonable price. Or donate to our fundrazr site. Go to fundrazr.com and type “Cinematopia” in the “find campaigns” field in the top right corner to see our page entitled: Let’s Save Cinematopia – Nova Scotia’s Video Store! There’s a great deal for donations of $20 or more – for the month of the donation, the donor will have free access to the collection, 4 DVDs at a time, excluding new releases – so as many movies as you can watch that month. There is also a link from our facebook page, Cinematopia Wolfville, a good place to find new releases and other info.
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