Skip to content

Vanishing video stores leave citizens upset

Just three months ago, Bonnyville had two movie rental stores competing for business.
Sobeys’ employee Jennifer Vasseur (left) shows Carmen Wurst how to operate the DVD vending machine inside Sobeys on July 8. With the demise of the two video stores in
Sobeys’ employee Jennifer Vasseur (left) shows Carmen Wurst how to operate the DVD vending machine inside Sobeys on July 8. With the demise of the two video stores in town, the vending machines at Sobeys and The Brick are the only places in town to rent movies.

Just three months ago, Bonnyville had two movie rental stores competing for business.

Movie Experts, located on 50th avenue and Movie Gallery, located on 46th street gave cineophiles the opportunity to satisfy their appetite for entertainment and catch up on Hollywood's latest hits.

But fast forward a few months later and the landscape is barren.

Movie Experts is completely closed as of press time, in its place is planned to be a liquor store. Movie Gallery, on the other hand, has been forced to liquidate its assets and close after the chain filed for bankruptcy in February.

Movie aficionados in Bonnyville are none too pleased.

“Every Tuesday I want to come to the video store and get the new

releases for the week,” said Joanie Ziegler outside of Movie Gallery

on July 8. “I used to look forward to every Tuesday. It's just so stupid

that they're both closing at the same time.”

“It's really disappointing that they're both closing,” said Jadie Pashak. She added that she thinks movie piracy and the increased availability of satellite TV has hurt the movie rental industry.

“My reaction is just that there's no stores anymore,” said Pam Caouette, with her two children in the Movie Gallery parking lot. “I have no idea where we will go to rent movies now, we just may not rent at all anymore.”

Those looking for a traditional video store in Bonnyville will now have to trek to Cold Lake or St. Paul but there are a few options remaining for those who want to stay in town.

Both Sobeys and The Brick are equipped with DVD vending machines, which allows customers to rent or purchase movies using a credit card.

The Brick's machine costs $2.99 to rent a movie and 99 cents for every day the film is kept after.

It holds 250 discs and operator Glen McNabb said that business has been up since the closing of the video stores. Customers also have the ability to purchase any of the movies in the machine.

Over at Sobeys, it costs $1.97 per rental and 99 cents for every day following. Their machine holds 1,200 discs and owner Fred Jalschen is looking for public input as to what they want in the machine.

“We're willing to stock the machine with whatever people are looking for,” he said. “We're really excited about the machine.”

Customers can also buy DVDs at the machine in Sobeys and they are looking into stocking the machine with video games as well. Payment options include credit card or by loading up a Fast Fliks card using a debit or credit card.

However, locals didn't seem to be too pleased with their experiences with the machines so far.

“They don't really have the best selection,” said Pashak. “It's only new releases and you can't rent anything older.”

“The machine is kind of a pain …,” said Ziegler. She also stated that she had a number of discrepancies with the way the machine charged her. A number of other customers also voiced their concern about the lack of children's movies available on the machine.

For now, customers simply have no choice, which is never a good thing. Until then, we can only wait and wonder if the town will ever see a traditional video store again.