SUMMERSIDE – Jennifer Gallant serves a long line of customers, each with a handful of plastic DVD cases or video games. More people mill around the store, walking up and down the aisles in a uniform pattern.
Fifteen years have passed since Gallant first rang in customers at the store, on the first day the store opened in its location on Granville Street. She has watched customers grow up, get married and have kids.
She’s also watched the industry change, however, and leave stores like theirs in the dust. On April 30, Jumbo Video will be another video store closing its doors for good.
“It will be a sad day, that’s for sure,” said Gallant, the assistant manager. “I was here on the day it opened and I’ll be here on the day it closes.”
With an expiring lease, the store’s owner had to evaluate options and make a decision, Gallant said. In the end, the reasonable decision was to close up. The Jumbo Video in Charlottetown, however, will remain open.
After ringing in the parade of customers, she heads to the back of the store, past a black door and into the employee area. In the back room, the store shows its age, with 15 years of history marked on the walls. Taking a seat, she begins to ponder 15 years and what will be the hardest part to walk away from.
In a niche industry such as video rental, she has gotten to know many of the customers who have been regulars for most of their lives.
“I’ll miss the people the most,” she said. “We’ve had toddlers who once came in here that are now 20 years old. It will definitely be a little sad.”
“It’s kind of like an end to an era,” she said. “There will be no more video stores in Summerside.”
On the shelves, movies range from the top flicks of the present, like Wolf of Wall Street, back to hit 15-year-old films like Fight Club, and beyond. With the closing date coming up, the stores stopped renting videos last week. Now, like the title of the offhandedly-serious Will Ferrell movie, “Everything Must Go.”
“It’s a huge clearance sale right now. We have to have everything out of here by the end of the month, so it’s been crazy busy lately.”
While there will still be places to rent movies, any gaming fans will be hard pressed to find a different rental place. With the high costs of buying them new, it’s a blow to people who like to try games out before buying them.
“I’m a gamer,” Gallant said. “Now there will be no places to rent games in Summerside. At least for movies you can go to corner stores or red boxes. But for gamers, it’s a sad day in town.”
Not back from break for 10 seconds, Jennifer already has a family of four approaching the counter, emptying a few more spots on the store’s many shelves.
Much like the hit movies of 1999 like American Pie or Austin Powers, Gallant has enjoyed a good run at Jumbo Video over the last 15 years. Like many good movies, however, the ending isn’t always clear.
“I’m not really sure what I’ll do next,” she said. “But I’m sure something will come along just fine.”