Black Dog Video

Stop for a moment and think back to the last time you were in a movie rental store. How long ago was it? For me, the answer is just last week. The Cambie Village is home to one of the few remaining movie rental stores in Vancouver, Black Dog Video near 18th and Cambie. You might be wondering, with most movie rental stores falling to the wayside, what does it take to succeed in this new age of streaming services, PVR and downloads? I took a stroll over to Black Dog Video to find out the secret behind their 17-year success in the movie rental business.

At first glance the shop is more reminiscent of a comic book shop or record store with a myriad of movie posters lining the walls and “Black Dog Approved” or “Don’t Miss This!” labels stuck on the jackets of choice films. And like those stores, they offer a selection of media that goes as far off the beaten path as you may wish to stray, as well as a weekly newsletter with recommendations and reviews. It’s the kind of place you can wander into, even if you don’t know what you want yet, and they will always be ready with some great recommendations; that extra layer of service is one of the key ingredients to their success.

A faithful following is key to the success of what nowadays amounts to a specialty store, and Black Dog has a loyal group of movie renters that would make any cult film jealous. These faithful customers routinely enjoy the plethora of films, the witty newsletters, and are always bringing in new recruits. It really just takes one trip into the store for you to see the immense possibilities for entertainment. It’s one of those places you don’t want too many people to know about because it’s so unique but at the same time you’re also so impressed by it that you want to tell everyone.

Now I know you’re all wondering: how do the prices stack up? Well, new releases can be rented for $5.50 for 2 days and older films are $4.50 for a week. And they have great specials: Sunday to Thursday you can get two films (two old films or one new and one old) for only $7 and on Wednesdays it’s five old titles for only $10. You can also pick up a prepaid movie card which gets you ten rentals for $35, saving you up to $20. But really, when it comes down to it, it’s not about the price. You go to Black Dog for the customer service, atmosphere and, of course, the selection.

Whether you’re looking for that new-from-the-theatre thriller, want to have a Harry Potter movie marathon, or host a monster movie night, one thing’s for sure: Black Dog is bound to have what you’re looking for. They have an enormous collection from every genre; pretty much everything you could want and then some that you didn’t know you did. Independent movie stores can carry hard to find films that streaming services may determine have markets that are too small to be economical. There’s a nunsploitation section (yes, you read that right),  and I’m particularly fond of the “You Are What You Eat” section which houses food-related documentaries. There are sections that are organized by director, and others organized by genre. Black Dog also carries seasons of TV shows on DVD so you can binge watch with the best of them! They have a booming new releases section which includes Blu Ray versions for those so inclined, and they are alway getting in more movies.

Be sure to check out the Black Dog Newsletter on their website as it is hilarious, and also includes embedded trailers of all the new films they are getting in that week. It is a great resource to hear about new movies, some great classics, and any specials going on at the store. They are also quite active over on Facebook and Twitter, sharing all sorts of movie-related goodies as well as the weekly newsletters. Summer is often hard on video stores, with all the lovely weather making us less attached to our televisions, but Black Dog always pulls through and, as they say, winter is coming.

Danniele Livengood

Black Dog Video
Address: 3451 Cambie St, Vancouver
Phone: 604-873-6958
Hours: Noon to 11pm Daily