Revitalizing Reo’s

Owner Cole Johnston offers VHS, DVD and Blu-ray rentals from new location.

Cole Johnston is the new owner of Reo's Movie Emporium.

Who in their right mind would buy a video store in 2016? That’s a question Reo’s Movie Emporium’s new owner Cole Johnston gets pretty much every day, so he’s got a ready answer.

“Everybody I’ve told that I’m opening a video store has had the exact same expression, a cautious ‘what are you doing?’ sort of face,” Johnston, 32, told the Star.

“I just really saw something that could work in Nelson. We’re such a microcosm of different people and so unique I feel like it’s one of the only communities where a video store could work.”

Put another way: “saying video stores are going extinct because of Netflix is like saying restaurants are going extinct because of McDonald’s. Both of them have a place.”

Johnston spent the last two years working at Reo’s for previous owners Park and Mary Cowin, who in turn bought the business from Paul and Megan Osak in late 2012. Reo Rocheleau founded the store in 1987 and remains its namesake.

Johnston has moved the business one building and a few doors down to the Front St. Emporium. Two months in the grand opening was in April he’s feeling heartened by the “fiercely loyal” clientele. He’s also looking for ways to diversify he now sells toys, memorabilia and graphic novels, as well as having a meeting space, screening room and game room.

“I always knew this wouldn’t be a get-rich scheme, but I’m such a movie nerd and such a fan of the video rental system that I just thought ‘why not?’ Worst case scenario it doesn’t work out.”

That was something he was warned about while taking courses at Community Futures.

“I went to their small business seminar, and it was funny because they give out a sheet and one of the first things on it was the top businesses not to open” including restaurants and video stores.

He decided to disregard that advice. He understands he’s got stiff competition but feels like he still has something unique to offer.

He noted that while streaming libraries often have approximately 1,500 titles, Reo’s currently carries 15,000 —including VHS, DVD and Blu-rays sorted into sections such as Staff Picks and Academy Award Winners. He carries everything from obscure documentaries to foreign films, children’s movies and blockbusters.

Pretty soon he’ll be starting a monthly movie night.

“It’s going to be the first Wednesday of every month and we’re going to pick a couple of cult movies to show. The first two movies are Miami Connection, a 1980s ninja musical, and Turbo Kid, this new Canadian Mad Max spoof.”

He’s offering his space for people to throw birthday parties and screening events of their own.

“We’re carrying vinyl now too, because that’s a big thing now. I always wanted to see Reo’s as a nerd depot. And I’m saying nerd in the best possible way. Everyone who has a nerdy thing can come down and enjoy it.”

Magic and Cards Against Humanity tournaments are coming, though Johnston joked Dungeons and Dragons players might “stay too long.” He’s feeling optimistic about the future, mostly because his type of personal passion is hard to replace with technology.

“Netflix is great and it’s cheap and instant, but relying on a computer algorithm to decide what you watch it takes something out of it, for sure.”

 

Just Posted

Logging protester arrested near Balfour

Jessica Ogden remains in custody until a hearing date is set

First Nations included in latest Columbia River Treaty talks

Seventh round of negotiations between Canada and U.S. wrap up in Washington D.C.

Close to 1000 people expected to hear international evangelist Angus Buchan this weekend

The Mighty Men’s Conference is taking place in Castlegar June 28-30.

Former Nelson swimmers competing in NCAA

Jordan and Kelsey Andrusak will be rivals in in the Western Athletic Conference

Video shows fireworks shot at swan in Alberta

Alberta Fish and Wildlife is investigating the incident in Grande Prairie

B.C. teen killed by fallen tree on field trip remembered as hero

13-year-old Tai Caverhill was the first to spot the tree falling and warned his friends

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

Should B.C. get rid of Daylight Saving Time?

The province wants to know, as state governments down south make the move

Air Canada reviewing how crew left sleeping passenger on parked plane

In a Facebook post, the woman said she woke up ‘all alone’ on a ‘cold dark’ aircraft

Canadians crash out of Women’s World Cup in 0-1 loss to Sweden

Canada missed a chance to tie the game on a penalty shot

Four-year-old boy assaulted at B.C. soccer game

It happened at a weekend tournament in Ashcroft

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Most Read