British Columbia

Non-profit keeps the past alive with purchase of 40-year-old Kamloops video rental shop

The MovieMart video rental store was opened in 1982 and has a collection of more than 25,000 DVDs and Blu-rays, many of which aren't available in online streaming services.

Kamloops Film Society aims to reopen MovieMart store at Paramount Theatre in September

Kamloops Film Society executive director Dušan Magdolen, left, stands with Kamloops Coun. Denis Walsh, the former owner of the MovieMart video rental store on St. Paul Street downtown. (Doug Herbert/CBC)

Dušan Magdolen remembers that when he came to Canada as a boy in the 1990s, it was a delightful experience to visit a video rental store — a kind of business that didn't yet exist in his home country of Slovakia.

Now, as the executive director of the Kamloops Film Society, he has been able to fulfil a nostalgic dream by purchasing one of the oldest movie rental shops in town. 

On Tuesday, the non-profit organization announced its decision to buy the now defunct MovieMart store, which was founded by Kamloops Coun. Denis Walsh in 1982, and relocate it to the Paramount Theatre several blocks away in downtown. 

In a written statement, the society says over the next few weeks it will bring the MovieMart's collection of more than 25,000 DVDs and Blu-rays to the theatre, which the organization leases to run movie screening events, and prepare to reopen the store in September.

"Connecting people with great films is what we do, and this is another way to do that. Denis often would get the films that we had shown in our Thursday film series or at our festival," Magdolen told CBC's Doug Herbert.

"And obviously Denis has been involved with the film society in the past, so it just made a lot of sense for us to take a stab at it."

MovieMart was founded by Denis Walsh in 1982, but was closed recently. (Google Maps)

Walsh says many movies in the collection aren't available on online streaming platforms, and he's glad the society is able to take over a business that he didn't have enough money to maintain.

"The number of clients has been decreasing steadily over the last five, 10 years," he said. "It's just time to move on because it is difficult to pay all the bills."

MovieMart has a collection of more than 25,000 DVDs and Blu-rays. (MovieMart)

Magdolen says his organization will keep the MovieMart name for the new store for the foreseeable future.

"That's a great name and has a great legacy, and the colours already match our colour, so it all works well," he said.

Magdolen declined to reveal the amount of money the society spent on acquiring the business.

In the meantime, the society is asking the public for donations of films in any formats, as well as players for DVDs, Blu-rays and VHS tapes. 

Tap the link below to learn more:

CBC reporter Doug Herbert speaks to Dušan Magdolen, the executive director of Kamloops Film Society, and Denis Walsh, city councillor and former owner of Movie Mart. 5:21

With files from Doug Herbert and Daybreak Kamloops

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