WOLFVILLE - Like many standalone video rental businesses before it, Cinematopia’s bricks and mortar store will soon become a thing of the past.
Owner Megan Haliburton says she can no longer continue to wait for a revival of the rental industry in a technological age that has made movies increasingly available through a variety of mediums accessible from the comforts of home.
“I’ve been accepting not having a lot of money. You balance financial reward with emotional, spiritual reward,” she said.
“The writing is on the wall, though… I can’t deny it anymore.”
The cozy shop lining Wolfville’s Main Street has become a go-to spot for film buffs appreciating the appeal back-and-forth movie banter, and walls concealed by DVDs stacked from the floor to ceiling.
The store is set to close June 27.
It’ll be a bittersweet occasion for Haliburton, who started the business in January 2010 after working for Bob Brown at the old Light and Shadow Video store in town. She’s carefully selected roughly 7,700 movies for her collection in the last eight years, paying particular attention to what she considers to be quality films.
“There’s a lot of movie lovers in this town. I thought if it could work anywhere, it could work here,” she said.
“But times have changed. Customers have fallen away.”
There was a time in the early years that the business was bringing in enough cash to justify the hiring of another employee, but the slow and steady decline in customers meant Haliburton had to get creative to try to keep the doors open for this long. She’s worked six days a week, tried crowdfunding campaigns, and had several volunteers, including Brown, help out at the shop over the years.
“This whole endeavor has been a lot of work, but it’s something I’ve loved doing,” the Wolfville native said.
“I’ll miss talking to people about movies - I love that. It never gets old.”
She’s come to know her cherished loyal customers on a first-name basis, and even met her husband, a fellow film noir fan, at Cinematopia.
“It’s a contagious feeling when you start talking about movies for those of us who love them.” she said.
“It’s a passion.”
Haliburton hopes to preserve some semblance of her movie rental business after the store closes. She plans to put aside some of the most popular titles for a mobile rental service she’s going to test at the Wolfville Farmers’ Market on Wednesdays throughout the summer.
“The depth of variety in this collection is the thing I don’t want to lose,” she said, adding that she’s carefully considering what she’ll do with movies leftover after her closing out sales starting June 1.
“I’m going to take the core of the collection home with me, so the best of the best and the big renters.”
She knows of several customers who are unable to access movies online, and she’s open to working with them to see if arrangements can be made so they can still rent DVDs from her once the store is close.
“I can do that for other people who are stuck between the technologies and they still want to watch DVDs,” she said.
She aimed to make Cinematopia a haven for movie lovers, a space for conversations and camaraderie.
“I’m just afraid it’s going to disappear,” she said, referring to the social aspect of visiting the local video rental store to pick out a movie.
“I’ve really enjoyed doing this and I’m very thankful to my customers. I’ve loved it, loved doing it. I’ll miss them.”
As the story of the store winds down to the end credits, Haliburton is moving forward with a glass-half-full outlook on what the future could hold.
“I’m sure something will come along,” she said with a warm grin.
“I’ll discover something.”