One of Toronto’s last movie rental stores celebrates 13 years

A man standing in front of shelves of movies
Daniel Hannah staunchly supports the preservation of physical media over digital streaming of movies. Photo courtesy of YELP.
Daniel Centeno - CJRU - TorontoON | 26-08-2021

In an age dominated by digital streaming, Eyesore Cinema remains committed to preserving physical media and offering the in-store experience for Toronto's movie fans.

"You and your audience may have noticed that a lot of streaming services offer a lot of stuff, but it's maybe 10 per cent of what you will find in a well-stocked movie store," said store owner Daniel Hannah. "When Netflix first started, people lost their minds because people, for better or for worse, always fall for convenience."

Eyesore is one of the last movie rental stores in the city, but it boasts a loyal, dedicated community who share in Hannah's dedication to physical media and the movies curated for the store. Now in its 13th year, Hannah continues to interact with its base through social media and initiatives like auctions as COVID-19 restrictions limit in-person engagements.

An eyeball against a purple and blue background

Eyesore Cinema continues to have events and campaigns surrounded around its 13th anniversary. Photo courtesy of Eyesore Cinema's Facebook page.

Since 2008, the shop has worked to offer a wide selection of movies to the city's diverse movie watchers. Hannah said he does not carry the latest Marvel or other big budget movies, but his customers range from passionate fans of celebrated Cannes Film Festival selections and the Criterion Collection to ones wanting cult hits and those who ask for "the absolute worst movies," according to Hannah.

"We get all kinds [of movie fans] in here, which is another thing I love about the community that surrounds this business and like-minded businesses," Hannah said.

While the store is operating at limited capacity indoors during Ontario's Phase three of reopening, Hannah describes the importance of building connections and community through human interactions — something he believes is lacking when movies are digitally streamed exclusively.

"One of the things that I love to see happen when the customers are in the store is someone will be looking at movies on this wall, someone will looking at movies on the other side of the store, someone comes to the counter to ask a question or a recommendation," he said. "And next thing you know, everyone in the store is in the conversation. Now I get strangers recommending movies to each other."

For the near future, Hannah is hoping to build the store's online presence as the pandemic continues. This includes a more robust online website for customer purchases and other online streams that help connect with his community.

Eyesore Cinema is located at 1176 Bloor St. W. since 2016. The original location of the store was in the Queen Street West area.

Listen to Daniel Hannah's full interview here: