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Free 'little Blockbuster' pops up in Edmonton neighbourhood

Aysha O’Brien stocks her outdoor DVD "library" on April 16, 2024. (Marek Tkach/CTV News Edmonton) Aysha O’Brien stocks her outdoor DVD "library" on April 16, 2024. (Marek Tkach/CTV News Edmonton)
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Like many people, Aysha O'Brien had a dusty bin of DVDs in her basement that was bound for the thrift store. But, she had a second thought.

Curbside "libraries," protected outdoor cabinet installations where neighbours can take and leave books for free, are popular in her neighbourhood.

"There's about five or six free libraries in our neighbourhood," says O'Brien. "What if we made a DVD library instead of a book library?"

Thinking of her own nostalgia, O'Brien decided to theme her curbside cabinet to the well-remembered movie rental store Blockbuster, which closed Canadian locations in 2011 before going bankrupt in 2014.

O'Brien painted her cabinet in yellow and blue colours, similar to the wall colours of the former stores. A familiar looking "Take A Video, Leave A Video" sticker adorning the top, reminiscent of the famous "Be Kind Rewind" reminders that adorned VHS tapes at rental stores.

The project was intended to cater to her neighbourhood, but O’Brien says people from all over the city have reached out.

"People (are so) thrilled that it's here," says O'Brien. "There's a few missing and a few new ones as well. It's made a lot of people smile."

O'Brien has also stocked her library with snacks and treats to go along with the movie watching experience.

Candy bars, Tootsie Roll pops and microwave popcorn bags sit alongside copies of familiar titles like Mission: Impossible 2, Napoleon Dynamite, Creepshow, That '70's Show and Juno.

"To me, it's about what Blockbuster was as a kid," says O'Brien. "It's about community involvement, and the thrill of finding something new to watch."

With files from CTV News Edmonton's Marek Tkach

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