Iconic video rental shop on Av­enue Road rolls cred­its

Own­ers out­lasted Block­buster but are now clos­ing on their own terms

North Toronto Post - - News -

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

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