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This Retro Bar Is Bringing Video Rentals Back To Toronto With A Side Of Booze

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Ontario Associate Editor
This Retro Bar Is Bringing Video Rentals Back To Toronto With A Side Of Booze

If you thought your Blockbuster days were over, think again.

Toronto's Farside bar has transformed into a video rental shop with a boozy twist.

The retro-style venue, known for its homey vibes and VHS video screenings, has found a unique way to navigate the current pandemic restrictions.

The bar is now offering old-school, classic VHS tapes to go, along with cocktail kits and even VCRs.

Co-owner Mike Reynolds spoke with Narcity about the new venture, and how the viewing experience differs from streaming platforms.

With 5000 VHS tapes in his personal collection, Reynolds is no stranger to relaxing with a good throwback film.

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What gave you the idea?

While current lockdown restrictions prevent customers from coming in and enjoying a film, they can still enjoy the same nostalgia at home through video rentals.

"Initially, the idea was sort of like, we have everything we need," said Reynolds.

Since the venue was already home to a large collection of VHS tapes, it was an easy transition, he told Narcity.

"I think a lot of people are just tired of streaming services and they're just getting a little bit antsy at home," he said.

"They want something a little bit different, maybe a little bit more nostalgic and comforting."

How does it work?

Just like the video rental days of the past, the bar is offering customers their very own memberships, which cost $10 each.

Rentals are $5 per night, and you can browse the films online and go to the bar to pick them up.

You can even rent VCRs with HDMI cords to hook up to modern televisions.

"I've had two people who have never used a VCR, or maybe once or twice when they were a kid," Reynolds said, explaining that he created a VCR video tutorial for all the digital-era customers.

Unlike your childhood movie nights, these rentals even come with the option of booze.

The bar offers a variety of beer, cider, and cocktail kits to go.

What makes watching a VHS different?

In an age where pretty much anything you want to watch is available at your fingertips, Reynolds says there's just "something about" that "kitschy" VHS experience.

He also emphasized that bad connections, lack of diverse selection, and more can affect the film-watching experience when using a streaming service.

"The feedback has been this amazement that it works. You know, they're like, 'oh my god, I didn't have any tech problems'."

While Reynolds is unable to host people in his bar under current restrictions, he's glad that he can still connect with the community.

"We're really blessed with a lot of local presence in Toronto," he said. "It's just nice to see people and catch up with everybody."


Price: $5 a night per rental

Address: 600 Gerrard St. E., Toronto, ON

Why You Need To Go: Relive your childhood at this nostalgic video-rental bar.

    Madeline Forsyth
    Ontario Associate Editor
    Madeline Forsyth is an Associate Editor for Narcity Canada’s Ontario Desk focused on Toronto restaurants and is based in Toronto, Ontario.
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