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'Celebrate the uncertainty': New Saskatoon video store offers throwback experience

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A Saskatoon church is turning back the clock to a simpler time, where families would scour the walls of a video store, hemming and hawing about which movie will take up a temporary residence in their living room on a Friday night.

Reverend Mark Kleiner at Christ Church Anglican in Caswell Hill recently cut a ceremonial strip of video tape at the new video rental store Nutflakes. A place where people could browse movie titles and reconnect with the community.

“I think what a lot of us are finding is a lot of the ways we do things we used to do socially, whether it’s shopping, or picking a movie or seeing a movie, we now do that in the privacy and comfort of our own homes,” Kleiner told CTV News.

“Obviously there’s a lot of advantages to that but what's done is it’s eviscerated our communities, we’re all living these isolated lives so the hope is that we can have a more socially-interactive experience in life period, but this is one small step towards that.”

With hundreds of titles to choose from, Kleiner has been working towards this moment for the past year. Now Nutflakes is open Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. offering a plethora of movie titles including many classic Disney VHS tapes and even the original Star Wars trilogy, on VHS.

Craig Silliphant, pop culture critic and editor of the Feedback Society, is a fan of Kleiner's endeavour.

“That’s not even available on streaming or on digital home media because they stopped making the original version so you have to get your hands on one of those old VHS copies,” Silliphant said.

Video rentals are free, but Kleiner and the church are accepting donations for CHEP Good Food, an organization that helps with food security in Saskatoon. Videos are allowed to be rented for seven days, and Kleiner has even brought in another nostalgic feature to his video store, the rental drop-off slot.

“If they don’t have their VCR players we have a VCR for you,” he said.

Kleiner said he hopes to pull people away from their streaming services and back out into the community.

“Here is a safe place to celebrate the uncertainty and you may not get the title you expected or hoped for, but maybe you’ll get something even better and you’ll be surprised,” he said.

Silliphant said a trip to the video store will no doubt offer people a different selection of movies, because most of what we see now on streaming services is selected based on what we’ve already watched.

“We’ve also become slaves to the algorithm you’re not searching out those things, it used to be really fun to go to the video store on a Friday night and pick out what movies you were going to watch,” he said.

Despite the hundreds of titles available now, Kleiner intends to keep the collection fresh switching out inventory with the more than 10,000 video tapes and DVDs stashed in plastic totes in his basement.

“Each one of these titles is like one of my children so to ask me, I don’t have a favourite child and I don’t have a favourite title.”

Nutflakes is located inside the Christ Church Angilcan Church at 515 28th St. W.

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