Today, another of Toronto's indie video stores drifts into the deadpool. Leila DeCiantis, owner and operator of The Little Video Shop in Baldwin Village, told NOW that her store will be shuttering in the near future due to dwindling revenues. "It's unfortunate that this is happening," DeCiantis told us. "But it is what it is."
DeCiantis has owned the store, a fixture on the retail and restaurant strip on Baldwin between Beverley and McCaul, since 2006. She attributes the decline in rentals to "the internet and the downloading and the Netflix and everything," motive forces also responsible for the closing of Queen West renter Black Dog just a year ago.
"I'm an optimistic person," DeCiantis said. "I've hoped things would turn around." She says that the rise in Video-On-Demand (VOD) services like Netflix and iTunes, as well as illegal downloading, have had a serious impact on independent renters, as well as big-box chains like Blockbuster (most of which have similarly disappeared from Toronto's downtown core over the past few years).
The Little Video Shop was, according to DeCiantis, a "community shop," offering gelato and coffee as well as video rentals, positioning it as a neighbourhood hangout. DeCiantis was even known to waive rental fees for customers strapped for cash, on the promise that they'd settle up later. (The chalkboard above the counter also offered "free popcorn" and "free hugs.") "Indie shops curate," she said. "They do it out of love, rather than money."
While DeCiantis is sad about having to close up shop, she remains convinced of the importance of independently owned community retailers like hers in shaping the fabric of a community. And before closing, DeCiantis is trying to sell off her entire rental catalogue, which she estimates at over 6,000 titles. She's also hosting an art show in early December. "When I bought the shop six years ago," she explained. "I wanted it to be comforting to people. I thought I'd make a difference in the community."