Specialty video stores are surviving the rise of online streaming

A hard copy of a film a viewer loves guarantees it will always be available to watch, unlike streaming content


By Tessa Bartholomeusz

DVD stores and online streamers sidestep each other in their content gathering. The big online streamers collect commercial hits and dismiss the smaller independent films and classics curated by these specialty DVD stores.

Black Dog Video and Videomatica are two of the few remaining video stores in Vancouver that have survived the growth of the internet and the dominance of online streaming services.

BJ Summers, the manager of Videomatica for over 20 years, does not see Netflix or Amazon Prime Video as competitors as they carry mainstream Hollywood content. Videomatica focuses on classic films, international films and in Summers’ words, “weird schlocky cult movies.”

“Maybe it’s because the classic story of why we are successful in 1983 still holds true for streaming today, as in we have a little more of a curated selection,” Summers said.

The experience of getting recommendations from a real live person and being part of a community are some of the benefits these stores have managed to keep alive. The future looks hopeful for Videomatica as their sales increased in March during the pandemic, enough to give them a boost of confidence to seek their new location at 16 East Broadway in Vancouver.

Darren Gay, owner of Black Dog Video, said there will always be a place for physical media.

“If you really want to have a copy of a film, you need to have a hard copy because there’s no guarantee it’s always going to be available.

“If you’re a film buff or a collector, you will love movies. Physical media, I believe is still the way to go,” Gay said.

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