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One of Vancouver's last video stores announces closure

The end of an era for Black Dog Video.

Blockbusters are like fossils, we're used to that fact though it still hurts. But this latest announcement in the world of video stores might be the most devastating yet.

After 26 years in business, Vancouver's Black Dog Video (1470 Commercial Dr) announced in a tweet on April 14 that the next few months will be its last.

After surviving the mass shuttering of all other video stores to become the last one in Vancouver, a fire, the construction of the Canada Line, and two years of a pandemic, Black Dog owner Darren Gay writes in a heartfelt statement posted to their website: "business has been on a decline for years while costs – rent, etc – have steadily risen. We just can’t feasibly stay open any longer. We lost the war to, what I call, the “convenience of mediocrity” that is streaming et all." Gay says that unless some miracle changes the situation, they plan to close at the end of June.

Work has already begun on pricing the stock and they hope to have it ready for sale by May. The closure doesn't mean the end of video stores in Vancouver however, Gay sold the Cambie Street location of Black Dog to a former employee in September 2020 and it was renamed Video Cat—keeping it in the family.

We asked Gay over the phone if he had anything else he would like to say to the community and his reply was: "Thanks to everyone who came into the shop over the years, it's been a pleasure and a treat to be a part of the community."

He told Vancouver Is Awesome the decision to close was a hard one that he fought against for as long as he could, grants from the government were able to keep Black Dog going during parts of the pandemic but that's all gone now. "I tried so many things but nothing's improved," he laments.

Black Dog on The Drive intends to close up by the end of June. Inventory will be put on sale starting in May. 

Read the full statement below:

"This is easily the most difficult newsletter I’ve had to write. Here it goes…

After 26 years in this business (16.5 on the Drive) it is with the heaviest of hearts and the saddest of sads, that I must announce that Black Dog Video is closing. It’s been a long time coming but it’s finally time to rip that band-aid off and pull the trigger so to speak. Business has been on a decline for years while costs – rent, etc – have steadily risen. We just can’t feasibly stay open any longer. We lost the war to, what I call, the 'convenience of mediocrity' that is streaming et al. Unless some kind of miracle comes along – maybe a wealthy benefactor takes us under their wing or a long-lost relative wills me their fortune (yes, I’m willing to spend a night in a haunted house!) then we will be closing our doors come the end of June (tentative date as I’m on the hook with my lease until February). We are currently pricing the stock (what a sad arduous task that is!) and we’re aiming for May 1st to make it available to the public for purchase. It pains me just to write that.

It breaks my (and the staff’s) hearts to have to do this as I’ve loved this job and feel damn lucky and privileged to have been able to bring the world of cinema to Vancouver for so long. It’s going to be a difficult next few months.

I want to thank all of you who came through our doors over the years and especially the ones who stuck with us till the end – a proper eulogy is still to come. Dark days indeed.

That said we still have some new films hitting the shelves today or tomorrow."