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Saskatchewan's last free-standing video store is a throw-back gem

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Time travel is possible.

If you head southeast of Saskatoon to the Video Stop in Watrous, you’ll be transported back to a nostalgic time before Netflix. This is the original video-on-demand.

It’s a throw-back gem where owner Earl Hayhurst offers customers a chance to go old school and rent a movie.

The Video Stop is bright blue and resides in the town’s former movie theater building on Main Street.

It’s a throwback to the days where watching a movie at home meant actually leaving home first to pick it out, and that is the best way to do it, according to Hayhurst.

“I love movies, I’ve always been a movie guy. I love physical copies. I love owning it, so I have it,” Hayhurst told CTV News.

He’s been in the video rental business for 31 years and stands by the rental approach. His rationale might stand in contradiction to the reason most people moved away from physical copies – convenience.

“I don’t have to wait to see if Netflix has it or took it off, or it’s on Disney or Amazon now,” he says.

It may be surprising, but Hayhurst says he has few problems with discs returned damaged or scratched.

“I have almost 16,000 movies and there’s only 1500 on Netflix, of which 900 are theirs which I don’t have, which is fine. It’s the same with Disney or Amazon and you spend $150 a month to get everything, and you’re not getting everything,” he says.

Video store operators used to have a group in Saskatchewan, according to Hayhurst.

There also used to be distribution companies to order movies from, but now that he’s the only one doing it, he’s resigned to going Wal-Mart or Costco to buy them individually.

Customer Eric Pankratz told CTV News people are surprised to find out Watrous still has a video store.

“It’s pretty cool. People I talk to say, you still have one of those? I have cousins from other provinces or different cities that say ‘you still have a video store?’”

Customers don’t just come for the selection, they come to hear Hayhurst’s movie recommendations and insight.

“I’m here every other day, sometimes every day, depending on the week. I just to see what movies are out and if there’s anything new,” Pankratz said.

Rentals cost $5.25 for new releases. Older movies run 3 for $10.00.

Christmas used to be the busy time for movie rentals, but that has changed in the last 10 years and he’s not sure why.

Now it’s summer that he gears up for, with Manitou Beach close by and regulars stopping in to rent.

“Campground people, or those that have cabins at the beach, and there are lots. Customers from Oregon, California. Everywhere in Canada basically,” he says.

Hayhurst admits that he’s thought about closing the doors many times, but always talks himself out of it. He doesn’t do it for the money.

“You kinda go, why am I doing this? But I love it, it’s fun!" 

Correction

This article previously stated Video Stop was the only dedicated video store remaining in Saskatchewan when in fact there is at least one other.

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