Iconic video rental shop on Avenue Road rolls credits
Owners outlasted Blockbuster but are now closing on their own terms
Before the days of Netflix, residents near Avenue Road relied on their local video rental store to satisfy their need to binge watch the latest TV series or have a movie marathon. Videoflicks has met those needs for more than 35 years, with owners Joe Carlino and Steve Cohen at the helm since 2004. Now, come December, they will close their doors for good. The silver lining? Cohen said a sale to clear the shelves will begin Oct. 1. He shares Videoflicks’ story.
When was Videoflicks first opened and why?
Videoflicks was opened by Michael and Beverly Kavanagh. Michael was very entrepreneurial and heard about this starting in Hollywood with renting movies, which was very contentious, and he decided to take the plunge and opened the store in 1981. His wife Beverly ran the Avenue Road store, and he opened his next one. In 10 years or so, he expanded to four corporate stores and 45 franchise stores across the Golden Horseshoe. In 2004, they sold Videoflicks to us.
What was it like working at the store in its earlier days?
Back in the ’80s, new releases cost us about $80 a piece.… It was a way that the studios could get a fair share of what they thought the video rental stores were making. Even at that price, we could buy 30 or 40 copies.… But it would still pay for itself in about eight weeks.
What does your shop provide that streaming services can’t?
We have a very devoted niche of customers. We keep the people who are really passionate about film and don’t just want to take whatever Netflix has. They want a more diverse collection and the guidance we give them. We’ve known them all for years. Many of our customers come to the counter; we don’t ask for their phone numbers or names. We pull up their file because we know who they are (1701 Avenue Rd., 416-782-1883).
Clockwise from top: current owners Joe Carlino (left) and Steve Cohen in 2013, former owner Michael Kavanagh in 1987 and Beverly Kavanagh in 1982