Suspect Video, landmark Toronto film rental store, closes for good

Suspect Video, a video rental store in Mirvish Village, closed its doors for the last time on Friday night.

Video rental store shutters amid major redevelopment plans for Mirvish Village

Suspect Video and Culture, attached to Honest Ed's, was in business for 25 years. (Ivan Arsovski/CBC News)

Suspect Video and Culture, known as one of the last remaining video rental stores in Toronto, closed its doors for good after 25 years on Friday night.

Film buffs gathered in the shop one last time to celebrate the years they have spent scouring the shelves, hoping for one last find.

Melanie Turner, a longtime customer of Suspect Video, said it was the end of an era.

"Seeing this store close, you could find movies here you couldn't find anywhere else," Turner said.

Customers scoured the crates one last time in the hopes of finding an obscure film in the collection. (Ivan Arsovski/CBC News)

Many of the visitors on the last day have been regular customers for years. The small store brought together curious first-timers in the Annex and a loyal community of Toronto residents who shared a love for film, comics and obscure television shows. 

Brad Brackenridge, another longtime customer, said he has visited Suspect Video for all 25 years of its existence — at times even filling in for a few shifts at the checkout desk — and called the closing of the store "bittersweet."

Regulars to the video rental store said their goodbyes on Friday. (Adrian Cheung/CBC News)

"It's a place for alternative culture," he said. "The staff are all knowledgeable."

Brackenridge said the staff had "encyclopedic knowledge of all the strange and wonderful films."

In the store, he said there was "stuff here that you will never, ever get again. Netflix and those places — it's not happening."

New plans for Mirvish Village

Suspect Video is the latest in a line of businesses that are closing shop at the end of January in Mirvish Village. 

Honest Ed's, the landmark retail store on Bloor and Bathurst Streets, was the first major business in the neighbourhood to turn off its lights at the end of 2016, after nearly 70 years of business. 

This is an artist rendering of what Westbank Development Corporation envisions Markham Street to look like. (Courtesy of Westbank Development Corporation )

The closures stem from major redevelopment that is planned for Mirvish Village. A new condominium complex, along with commercial space, is expected to replace large sections of Markham Street.

The leases for an estimated 70 tenants in the area expire on January 31 and they will be evicted to make way for the expected projects. 

"[Mirvish Village] is yet another invaluable resource that is dwindling in's really a shame," Brackenridge said.

More than video rentals

By Friday, the shelves that were usually packed with magazines and movies were barren. Most of it had been sold in the months after the store announced its closure. 

Luiz Ceriz, owner of Suspect Video, said he was ready to say goodbye after more than two decades of business, but he will miss the friendships that have developed in the store. He said those relationships amount to more than the number of titles they have collected over the years. 

"It's not just people coming in, buying and leaving," Ceriz said.

"They come in and chat with us about what they like and what they didn't like and why. And we'll throw in our two cents — it's a dialogue." 

Luis Ceriz, owner of Suspect Video and Culture, said he will miss the friendships that have developed over the years due to a shared love of film. (Ivan Arsovski/CBC News)

Patrons of the store said while streaming services, such as Netflix, make films more accessible, the romance of finding an unknown film and talking about it with friends is being lost as video rental stores disappear.

The days of digging through titles to unearth a hard-to-find cult classic or cheesy B movie has largely been rendered as a relic of the past, they said.

Ceriz said on many occasions "we've introduced people to genres or filmmakers that they may not have had before. And vice versa."

The bricks and mortar of Suspect Video will be demolished soon but some form of it will live on. The owners are planning to recreate a web store under Suspect Video's name in the coming weeks.