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One of Canada's last movie rental stores starts GoFundMe to stay open

After surviving more than four decades, a local movie rental store is struggling to survive as costs surge, and streaming services take over.

Joe French took over Movie World in Stony Plain in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic after always wanting to own a movie rental shop. The shop sells and rents VHS, Blue-ray, DVD, and 4K while also selling video games and collectibles.

"I just kind of threw caution to the wind," French said. "This kind of opportunity won't come along again."

"My biggest passion is movies," he added. "Everything to do with movies, recommending movies, talking about movies, and, obviously, watching movies."

French says the business is struggling so much he started a GoFundMe to help pay the bills.

"There were a few really, really close calls for this place, but it's just keeping the awareness going. Letting everybody know that we're still here and what we offer rather than mindlessly scrolling through a screen trying to pick out a movie," French said.

"Winter is usually our best time of the year," he said. "This year has been a little bit of up and down, mainly downs, but that's understandable. It's been like that for a lot of people."

In his view, the store survived the fall of big rental chains due to Movie World's comprehensive selection of rare, unique, and current titles.

"It's the rare gems, the hard-to-find stuff that you couldn't necessarily find in the big box rental stores," he said.

Now, he hopes that will help his business compete with streaming services.

"With everything being exclusive online now, having to subscribe to 20 different sites to get everything you want to watch now has become kind of costly and irritating," French said.

Movie World owner Joe French (CTV News Edmonton).

"So, we try to bring in everything you can find online and more," he added. "We try to have everything you can think of here."

Ed Newman has been coming to the store almost daily since 1999.

"If I don't find anything, I just come to visit," he told CTV News Edmonton.

"I just come to visit," Newman added. "I like the staff here. They're great. They kind of know what I want already."

French says the store represents a significant community pillar for many regular visitors like Newman.

"It's been here for so long, it would devastate people if it did disappear," he said.

As someone without cable or a Netflix subscription, he doesn't know what he would do if the store ever closed.

"Be bored," Newman said. "Very bored!"

Amanda Hemminger and her daughters go to Movie World twice a month.

"I did it as a kid with my parents, same as my husband, and we wanted to do it with our children," Hemminger said.

"It's also a little bit sad that it might not be here for much longer, so we try to support," she added. Top Stories

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