Well here we are. The last train has pulled out of the station. The lights have been dimmed, the ham chilled. For the past 24 ½ years I’ve steered this video store from it’s humble beginnings (those wild-west days were so much fun: Parties. Friends. Good times.!) across the street on Cambie with its AstroTurf floors, bulky VHS tapes and dog biscuit rental tags (which did not last even a day as they were eaten by the first dog came into the shop!) to the current location in all it’s faded glory.
It seems like a life-time ago (and it has been to any 24 year-old!) since we started. I still remember getting resumes and notes of encouragement slipped under the door as we prepared to open. I knew then that I was onto something good. I’ve met many a great folk along the way, customers and staff alike (there were a couple of duds, but they were few and far between). Many are still good friends to this day. And that was always the best part (well, and all those amazing films) – the people. It really was something special. I couldn’t have done it without all the amazing kids who were with me in the trenches slinging videos over the years; JR, Patrice, Amanda, Keir-la, Melinda, Danielle, John (R.I.P.), Dane, Aliza, Alex, The Don, Robin, Graham, Bill, Shoby, Gwynne, Jacqui, Bjorn, Patrick, other Amanda, James, William, Angie, Eric, Travis, Becky, Naomi, Kathryn, Vanessa, Ava, Dylan and, of course RJ. Phew! I hope that I haven’t forgotten anyone. Apologies if I have.
It was a wicked ride. So many great times, a few bummers (the great fire, Y2K, dirt bus line, streaming services, plague and, of course, John’s passing) but I have so many great memories (what I can remember anyways), that they far outweigh the bad. I’ve had the pleasure of serving thousands of folks who came in looking for a respite from the tyranny of Blockbuster and then from the lame streaming services. It is still rewarding to me to turn folks onto something great that they weren’t familiar with. And to find things that I didn’t know was out there. I’ve seen babies grow up to be fine young adults and folks get old and shuffle off into the night. But that’s how time works, right? I still find it weird, but cool, to see so many people as they get older but I imagine that they think the same of me. Gone is that bright-eyed 30 year-old with a full head of hair only to be replaced by a 55 year-old grey-bearded fellow with a 15 year-old son!
It’s been quite amazing really. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything. Sure I may have done a few things differently but, like this broke-ass year, hindsight is 2020. Overall I think we did a pretty good job. We’re the last video shop in town and I like to think that what we do still counts for something.
RJ is taking over the reigns September 1st t to keep the video store dream alive. He’ll do a bang-up job and he’s pretty excited. Give him your love and support.
I just want to say thank-you to everyone who has come through the Black Dog’s doors over the past 24 years and grabbed something wonderful to take home (and then bring it back late). Your support and loyalty has meant a great deal to me. It’s sad, yet it’s a relief, to leave the old shop behind. I’ll still be behind the counter over at the Commercial Black Dog but drop into the Cambie shop and say hi this week as I’ll be working my last two official shifts Wednesday and Thursday 2-8pm.
Melinda summed it up nicely in a message to me – “I have seen a lot of (things): A marriage. A funeral. A knife. A giant cheese-ball. Fake blood. Real blood. Tears. Beers. Community. Friends. Freaks. Fires. Films. Lots of films. And dogs…”
Again, thank-you from the bottom of my cold dusty heart. You’ve made this old man feel pretty damn lucky.