Like all businesses and nonprofits alike, Nelson Civic Theatre Society (NCTS) has our story of our experience throughout the last 18 months of the pandemic. It’s been a cascade of experiences and pivots to remain buoyant and relevant, some more successful than others.
We had the opportunity a year ago to buy Reo’s Video, Nelson’s beloved 34-year-old video store. Reo’s has been an exception to the rule for years, defying the death and demise of most other video stores in North America, joining the ranks of the few that have prevailed, like Vancouver’s Black Dog Video and Videomatica, and Portland's Movie Madness.
When we purchased Reo’s, we did so for two reasons: we knew that in addition to being closed by public health mandate, the store was needing to move and would possibly close altogether given the combination of circumstances. We also had long valued Reo’s as a cousin to The Civic, and it mattered deeply to us that Reo’s continued to operate. Like our theatre, Reo’s Video has long played an important cultural role in nurturing local appreciation for film and cinema history of Canada and the world.
It took us six months to find a new space for the store, and we were delighted to end up at 225 Hall Street, where Reo’s Video is now. During that time we heard from many, many Reo’s customers, eager to get back to their nightly or weekly rental schedule. We were confident that once we reopened, Reo’s would return to its usual business. The numbers made sense when we took over, and we were excited to reopen.
We unveiled the new Reo’s Video on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17, 2021. The first few weeks looked pretty good - people were coming in, checking out the new store, and renting videos. We expected that with the ongoing restrictions in gatherings, and the closure of venues like The Civic Theatre at that time, people would get back into their longstanding video rental habits. After all, 80% of our 18,000 titles at Reo’s can’t be found on any streaming service. The collection has always been strong, exciting, revered and protected by its customer base.
If there has been anything consistent during the last 18 month of pandemic it is that nothing has been normal or expected. In the case of Reo’s Video, things have not been back to normal: our income projections have not yet panned out. In comparison to pre-Covid levels, store income has dropped by more than half. NCTS took on Reo’s to save the business, while tiding us over with an income stream until our theatre could reopen again, but the business has been costing us rather than amplifying our income.
So, some real talk here. We love Reo’s Video, but we need reassurance that Reo’s customers love their local video store too. We’ve waved aside the naysayers who insist that video stores are dead because the historical statistics of THIS business tell a different story, but we are at a point when we need to see Reo's Video bounce back in order to continue it.
So if you love Reo’s Video and want it to remain a cultural fixture in our community for years to come, we need your help. We need Reo’s Video customers to come back by October 31st in order for us to continue to operate the store.
We are open Tuesday-Sunday, from 2-8pm and we have special offers throughout the week. We have new releases, beloved classics, unexpected gems, and seasonal spotlights - in fact you can find them ALL on our online catalogue. If you don’t know what to get, you can check out our staff picks wall or ask our staff, whose knowledge of the Reo’s collection is nothing short of uncanny. If you really want to show your love, buy a punch card and get one for your friends. And don’t miss International Video Store Day on October 16th (no, we didn’t know either!).
If you aren’t a member, buy or renew your NCTS membership (only $20 per year!). Reo’s Video is now a program of Nelson Civic Theatre Society and your membership at NCTS supports Reo’s and a whole bunch of other great programs and services to our community. And it gets you special deals on your video rentals and tickets to movies at The Civic Theatre too.
Reo’s Video is a cultural collection and historic film archive worth preserving. The rental program is only one aspect of its value in our community, so if you value this service and collection you can also make a charitable gift to support it and help the program make ends meet. Your gift of $20, $50, $100 or more before October 31st will go a really long way towards showing your love and appreciation for Reo’s Video as a program of NCTS. Please note that if you click on the Paypal link inside our form, it will give you an option to make a gift by credit card.
We have great big plans for the future of Reo’s, such as building an in-store microcinema, building out film education events based on genres, directors, themes and other qualities, re-establishing our in-store merchandise, ranging from Pokémon cards to comics and graphic novels, cinephile gifts, clothing, and much more. But we can’t move forward with these opportunities unless we know we still have a solid audience for video rentals first. I hope you’ll work with us to ensure a future for this iconic cultural fixture in our community.
Just another last reminder to come out to Reo's Video on October 16th don’t miss International Video Store Day on October 16th. We have in-store prizes, early Halloween candy gifts, some great new merchandise, and scary deals on video rentals, especially if you come in costume (children and adults alike!).