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The last video rental store in Kingston, Ont. is closing

From the rise of the VHS tape to the switch to DVDs and Blu-ray, Classic Video in Kingston, Ont. has seen it all. But now, the store is hitting the stop button.

The iconic video rental store on Clarence Street is shutting its doors after 35 years in business. It’s the last of its kind in Kingston, and the news has many in the city showing their love for the store.

Owner Tom Ivison has a word for how he’s feeling.

“It’s bittersweet,” he says.

He says the pandemic has been tough on his small business, and he is being forced to close.

From movie nights to date nights, he says it’s been nice to be part of the film-loving Kingston community.

“Many a time over the years, the video store is somewhere where you could meet someone you’ve never met before and have that conversation about a movie,” he says about what makes a video store special.

After decades in business, Ivison has many stories, but he says a highlight moment for him is entertaining those who still had power during the 1998 ice storm.

“There was no way to watch any television at all, and the power's out for some, so people would go over to families' homes or friends' homes to watch movies,” he says. “That was the busiest week I can ever remember.”

Not to mention Hollywood celebrities looking to get their Hollywood fix.

“I would say the most famous face is Dan Aykroyd,” he explains. “When he came in, he was setting up his membership. We required photo ID at that time, so he stepped out of line, grabbed the movie Dragnet and said 'this is me!'”

Many in the community have been rallying in support after hearing the news. People have left thank you notes on the store's door outside.

The pandemic has been devastating on Ivison, so customer Bill Wittur has started a GoFundMe page to help with Ivison’s pandemic-related loans, which have reached more than $200,000.

“We wanted to make sure that Tom had a chance to walk away from this not feeling destroyed financially,” he says.

He says it has always been nice to have Ivison’s expertise with videos in the five years he’s been coming here, and wanted to support him.

For the next month, Ivison will help sell off his 50,000 titles to help recover costs and start his next chapter.

He says he’ll take some time, to figure out his sequel, while being proud of what he’s accomplished.

“I worked hard to get to that 35 year marker in November. And no one can take that away from me.” Top Stories

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