Category_Collecting, Category_Groovy Stuff, Category_Horror, Category_VHS, Category_Weirdness -

Guy Stone and Starlight Cinema Helps Keep the Analog Dream Alive for Videovores in The Great White North!

Guy Stone is a Canadian born and bred tapehead with a persistent appreciation for the Father of all home formats: the almighty VHS! He’s owned and operated two video stores in the Great White North over the years and while his original shrine of cinema lending has closed its doors, his new spot Starlight Cinema is churning out movie madness like never before. Guy supplies his movie-craving customers with every modern viewing option available, but those sturdy chunks of black plastic pleasure still populate his shelves should his clientele want to groove on back to the roots of home entertainment enjoyment. Read on, fellow Videovores, discover the fruits of enthusiastic enterprise and don’t forget to grab some of that free popcorn!

Guy holding it down at the counter with some choice slabs o' analog and some salt-tastic sustenance!

LM: How did you get your start in the movie rental business? Grindhouse Video was your first shop, right? Can you tell us a little bit about how that shop got started? GS: Correct: Grindhouse Video was my first shop. I was always into movies, more in particular the horror/cult genre. I collected for many, many years and accumulated a fairly extensive collection to the point where I really didn't have the space to keep them all: DVD, Laserdiscs, Beta and of course VHS. I had a friend that had a great collection as well, and while I was on vacation in the Philippines he called me and asked what I thought about opening up a shop. We already had a ton of stock which lowered our start up costs, so we went for it. In around that time is when all the big chains started to close their doors so we thought we would capitalize with a specialty niche shop. I eventually bought my partner out just after the first year or so and I was on my way… not to mention it was nice to finally have a big enough space to showcase all the titles.

A look at the Grindhouse Video storefront. Pinhead is watching you. And you like it.

About how many titles did you have in Grindhouse? Did it cater more to Horror / Exploitation as the name implies? At the time of Grindhouse closing its doors, there were around 7000 titles in just DVD alone… plus maybe around 1500 VHS. It definitely catered to a certain crowd without neglecting the majority of the people walking in. I sold different horror magazines, etc., as well as doing special orders for customers. Yes, Grindhouse was known for its abundance of hard-to-find titles in the horror/cult genre, but that alone will not make a great store… you need to have everything: New Releases, Classics, Foreign, Documentaries, Criterion, Kids/Family, Sci-fi, Television series, Asian Cult, and everything else in-between.

A peek inside the walls of Grindhouse. Got some VHS tapes creepin' on ya in the left corner. WATCH OUT NOW.

What caused Grindhouse Video to cease? Grindhouse closed its doors because I relocated for certain personal reasons. Had those reasons not surfaced I'm sure it will still be open today… at least I think it would!

Guy's new haven for home entertainment. Video transfers, eh? I've been thinking about replacing my hands with VHS tapes. It's a risky procedure, but it's worth it.

You started Starlight Cinema in the wake of Grindhouse. Can you tell us a little bit about the interim? How long between stores? What inspired you to start the VHS rental love up again, etc.? Starlight Cinema opened its doors about 2 and a half years ago. When I relocated I wasn't sure what I wanted to do (as in stay in the industry. I had all my movies still packed away in boxes. Nelson is a small town with approximately 10,000 people; it's very tough to find work unless you have a trade, etc., so after pounding the pavement for several months and handing out 40 or so resumes with no luck I said fuck it I'll do something myself… found a good location; my rent was half of what it was in Vancouver; built a shit ton of shelves and hit Nelson like a speeding locomotive! felt amazing to open up those boxes of films and start showcasing again. Ironically there are still a bunch of people that have VCRs in this town and ironically most of them were into the horror stuff, and even though I probably had the title on DVD they found something nostalgic about taking a tape home and plopping it in their machine. Plus, I give out free popcorn to customers so everyone's happy. It was maybe a year between the two stores.

Free popcorn = super-bitchin' awesome. The Joker approves.

It looks like the stock has increased with Starlight. How many titles are carrying now? All formats, right? Stock is now at approximately 10,000 titles, the majority being DVD, of course. Blu-Ray is finally catching on now that the TV's and players are more affordable for the consumer. Starlight Cinema has one of the best selections within the entire Kootenay Region, you have to carry everything in order to survive… but the fact that I still have VHS for rent usually blows people’s minds.

The VHS wall will DOMINATE! Lots 'o groovy titles just waiting to be fed to your VCR. DIG IT.

What are some of your most popular rentals? Do you notice a leaning toward a certain genre when it comes to VHS rentals? We have a section set up that is an essential viewing section: the top all-time rentals from Grindhouse and Starlight combined… meaning the titles that have rented out the most. It's a great go-to section that is a mish-mash of all kinds of stuff like OLD BOY, IT’S ALL GONE PETE TONG, CHOPPER, COCAINE COWBOYS, BELLA, CITY OF GOD, etc. The list goes on and on. Honestly, the VHS does rent out but compared to the newer formats it doesn't hold a candle. Although, I do smile whenever a tape rents out… it takes me back to a time when video stores were huge!

A look into Starlight Cinema's groovy Horror / Cult section. BEWARE, MAN, BEWARE!!

Do you carry VHS that aren’t available on DVD? Do people seek those particular titles out? Yes, we have VHS that are either not available on DVD or that I just haven't yet purchased on DVD. Do you rent out VCRs? Do you have one of those over-night drop boxes? Man, I love those things. I don't actually rent out VCRs to customers, but I do have several at home just in case someone wants to borrow one. Every now and then people come in with their kids who have never watched a tape before, but you can tell the parent/parents were tapeheads when they were younger. If I hear them say, “Damn, I wish we still had our tape player!" I will let them know that I will bring one in for them to borrow for a few days just so they can re-live their youth and their kids can experience it for the first time. Hell yeah I have an overnight drop-box!

More shocking stock from the shelves of Starlight. Look at all the groovy horror goodies, man. DIG THOSE VIDEO ERA VIBES.

Where do you get your stock for the store? Yard sales, flea markets, etc? Online? Once you have your Motion Pictures Retailers License you can pretty much grab movies from anywhere. I do have a distributor for the more difficult stuff to find as well as doing special orders for customers that are having a difficult time tracking something down, or if they rent something from me that they want to add to their own library but have no idea where to get it. What do you think of all the VHS love that’s been coming back the past couple of years? Have VHS rentals picked up in that time? I think the VHS love has been around a lot longer than a couple of years. I think it's absolutely amazing in the fact that, for me, it takes me back to a very important time of my life, the early 80's weekend family adventure of going to Jumbo Video, grabbing a top loader and 5 or 6 movies. As far as VHS rentals picking up due to the resurgence I would have to say that it hasn't really affected business on a higher level but it's still exciting to see people that are interested in renting tapes.

It's a veritable avalanche of home entertainment in Starlight, man. GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!

Why do think it’s important to preserve VHS? Why continue to make it available for people? Preserving VHS is very important because it was one of the first formats that was readily available for home viewing. The boom in the early 80's was so massive that most of the younger people today have a difficult time comprehending it. It was the big box art work, the smell of the tapes, the non-perfection of the images on screen, etc. The loud clunk of the tape ejecting, the sounds of the heads turning. It's important to make VHS still available because it DESERVES to be available. Without VHS and BETA there would be no DVD or Blu-Ray. There is such a huge demand for collectors because it takes them back to a certain time. I know for myself that I remember where I was the very first time I watched an H.G Lewis movie for example… it sticks in your head like a song. VHS is probably the most durable format to this day. Tape won't scratch… it may deteriorate over time from extensive playing but that's understandable. If I had a choice on whether I could load this shop with tapes or discs I would prefer tapes, but unfortunately in this day and age I would not survive. Anything else you’d like to say to all the Videovores out there? First, I would like to thank you for even considering me for an interview. I feel honored. Second, I have made a lot of friends on a few of the VHS pages that are hands down the most knowledgeable people I have ever talked to in regards to tapes. I have learned new things and I have also been reminded of things I forgot years ago. These are the people that are allowing VHS to survive; these are the people that are teaching others the importance of the best media format that there has ever been! Thanks again for allowing me this opportunity and LONG LIVE VHS!!!! And big thanks to Jodi Beauchamp for helping me keep Starlight running!

Right on, Guy, right on! Big analog ups to Mr. Stone and his Starlight Cinema for keeping the tapes on the shelf and enabling movie-renters the chance to travel back in time to the era of clunky, chunky analog awesomeness. Preservation and celebration are alive at Starlight! Groove on over to the Starlight Cinema Facebook page and give 'em some love. And, hey, next time you're across the border chillin' with some Canadian tapeheads, be sure to groove on through the shop and get yourself some free popcorn! It's free, man!!

Analog Dreams Forever.

Josh Schafer

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