Books, movies and music, oh my!


Photo by Sadman Sakib Rahman

As a kid growing up in the late 90s and early 2000s, life was pretty good. Jumbo Video was our local movie rental place of choice and going there was always a treat. My dad would take me into the dimly lit, slightly dusty VHS paradise and I’d be handed a small paper bag of popcorn to snack on while I looked around the store with wonderment.

There’s something both overwhelming and amazing to a young kid about being able to choose their own tapes out of a selection of hundreds of movies.

My love for films was probably sparked because of our many weekend trips to the cramped movie spot, renting Space Jam for the tenth time in a row with absolutely no shame whatsoever.

After Jumbo Video closed for good and Blockbuster went the way of the dinosaurs, my childhood innocence wasn’t put to a complete halt, since we started going to Steve’s TV instead. I still got handed a little bag of stale popcorn and I was still able to physically choose what I wanted to watch.

I could rent PlayStation 2 games after a tactical decision-making process that required a lot of strategical brain power, and then I could watch Gremlins 3 without a worry in the world.

I can’t really pinpoint the moment when this stopped being the norm and watching things online became the family habit instead.

It was the same for book and music stores as well. Going to HMV after every holiday with my Christmas money and gift cards shoved into my nylon wallet was always a thrilling experience.

Netflix is great, but I’m not handed a snack-sized bag of day-old popcorn when I log onto the site, so it just isn’t the same.

I got to hear the wonderful click-clack of the CDs as I flicked through them trying to choose the perfect ones so that my money wasn’t wasted, and I always went there to buy new releases that I was excited about.

Used bookstores — like Casablanca Bookshop that used to be in Downtown Kitchener — were always a safe bet too. I could walk in with twenty dollars and come back out with a stack of musty smelling books to shove onto my shelves and feel satisfied that my crumpled bill was put to good use.

These stores will always hold a nostalgic place in my heart for the experiences they gave me as a kid and for the endless love they instilled in me of reading, listening to music and watching movies.

I realize the market for rental movies — for the most part — has been left in the past and, with the evolution of technology and the way people watch films, it’s not surprising that rental places don’t really exist anymore.

But that doesn’t mean the old lady in me doesn’t want to cling onto their remnants for as long as humanly possible.

It’s why I’m oddly grateful for the rising movement of hipsters and their incessant need to reestablish “vintage” aspects of our quickly aging society and how we consume entertainment.

I’d be the last person to complain about the resurgence of record players and vinyl, since I finally have an excuse to start my own collection that could vaguely rival the albums owned by my parents.

The kitschy charms that come with Uptown Waterloo and parts of Kitchener are the used book, movie and music stores.

There will always be ones that don’t manage to keep up with the times despite their roots in the past, but it seems that when one fails another pops right back up to take its place.

Thumbing through the used records in Orange Monkey Music, finding a unique used novel in Words Worth Books or renting a DVD just because I can from Far Out Flicks (which is a convenient two-minute walk away from me) is something that feels like a privilege these days more than anything else.

I’m not going to be one of those insufferably pretentious people that rejects all aspects of the modern day and laments the loss of every establishment since 1950, but I can’t deny the joy I feel when I enter these quirky little establishments and get to relive part of my childhood.

Netflix is great, but I’m not handed a snack-sized bag of day-old popcorn when I log onto the site, so it just isn’t the same.

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