Walking into Pic A Flic Video store in the Cook Street Village, it’s easily confused with a library.
The old wooden shelves that line the store walls and run throughout the store are stacked inches upon inches with DVDs. They’re packed so methodically and neatly that on first glance, they look more like books than movies.
But that is what owner Kent Bendall believes the store has become — a library of sorts for cinema.
Being one of the last movie rental stores left in Victoria, Pic A Flic is home to more than 30,000 movie titles, TV shows and even a few VHSs from the newest releases to films dating as far back as the 1920s.
Bendall, who worked at the store full-time for the past 15 years, recently went from long-time employee to owner after he purchased the business from the previous owners on Jan. 1.
“It is crazy. I’m the first to admit I’m certifiable,” Bendall laughed, adding the former owners did not want the store to close nor did they want to just sell the business to anyone.
“It’s very much a neighbourhood store. I’ve seen kids grow up and come in with their parents and now they’re coming in with their own kids. You definitely feel the community vibe here.”
The store has been a fixture in the community since it first opened in 1983 (the original store opened across the street and shortly after moved to its current location).
Over the years with the shift to a more digital way of consuming movies, such as Netflix and Shaw on Demand, the store has seen a decrease in the number of people coming in to rent the latest blockbuster movies.
However, Bendall said they still have regular customers, who come in on a weekly basis, and are looking for a more human connection.
“Just the fact that you come in here and talk to people. There are still people that like that face-to-face interaction. You can come in a say ‘I like this movie, what else would I like’?” said Bendall, noting they have customers from as far away as Galiano and Pender islands, Sooke and Mill Bay who come down weekly.
“There’s so much nowadays where people are on their phone or on the computer, everything is push a button and download. People like going out for a walk.”
Rosa Venditti has been renting movies at the store since 1992.
“The staff are so nice. It’s a real community feeling, that’s what it’s all about,” she said. “It’s very important. We’re just too focused on saving a dollar.”
Long-time customer and Cook Street Village resident Yogi Garcia said what’s unique about the store is it offers a number of older films that are difficult to find elsewhere.
“I’m just glad that (Kent) purchased the place. It’s a labour of love, there are a lot of regular people who come here. It’s part of the neighbourhood,” Garcia said. “Look at all this stuff. There’s stuff here that you can’t find anywhere else or on Netflix.”