When you hear Art Decor you don’t necessarily think of a top notch independent video store, but that is exactly what you get at Movie Art Decor. A poster shop turned video rental store that has maintained its excellence throughout it’s thirty-one year history. Though the store still boasts rare and collectable movie merchandise it has also become the neighborhood’s premier destination for all things cinematic.

History

Movie Art Decor opened its doors more than thirty years ago. Ed Guca and his wife Wanda opened as a small shop offering original movie poster art, which at the time was hard to come by. Guca had a great appreciation for movie poster art especially the poster for Ridley Scott’s Alien which he received as a gift from his wife. He quickly acquired more posters, eventually bringing them to memorabilia shows where they sold incredibly well. Their inventory grew and their house quickly filled with memorabilia. Since the shows only came a couple of times a year, and they realized the market for these items was something people wanted year round, Guca decided to open a store dedicated to this merchandise. The early months of the store were meager but when two men came in requesting a rare Ronald Reagan poster for the then President’s film Law and Order,   things were about to change. The poster was a favorite of Guca’s and, not wanting to let go of the item, priced it at a ridiculous $900. After some consideration the men bought the poster for a bar called Reagan’s in England. The money from that sale paid the rent for months to come. Not bad for a poster he originally paid $5 for.

In the early years of Movie Art Decor the video rental age began. “We started off with a grand total of forty movies.” Guca recalls. Movies were only rented back then because the cost to purchase a VHS movie was around $120 to $140, and that was in 1980. “Eatons and Simpsons had a little display case under lock and key.” Guca laughs. One of the first neighborhood video stores in Toronto, Movie Art Decor has seen the video rental industry evolve from it’s very inception and has kept up with it along the way.

Renting

To get in on Movie Art Decor’s movie selection of over 17,000 films you just need a major credit card and one other form of identification. New releases are $5.25 per day until you rent thirty films and you get bumped up to the preferred membership rate of $5 per day. Anything else is $2.99 for three days or seven days if you rent more than two films. Box sets are rented by the disk, depending on the running time, for the same price as a film rental. Movie Art Decor also offers rental coupons on their website (http://www.movieartdecor.com/) and every Tuesday they offer a rent one regular movie and get a second for one cent.

Frequent Renters

What movies get rented more than others? “We do better with the smaller independent movies than the big ones.” Guca says. His theory is that because most of the big movies are seen in the theatre movie renters don’t want to rentthem again. They come to the video store to rent the films they didn’t get a chance to see in the theaters. Films such as Happythankyoumoreplease , the animated film The Illusionist , Nowhere Boy and I am Love . They also have a “Most Popular” section offering the movies that get rented the most, whether that is good or bad. The section boasts films ranging from The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo to Marmaduke , so take your pick.

The Inside Scoop

The most obvious offering that Movie Art Decor features is a plethora of movie and television related merchandise. The front quarter of the store abounds with magazines, posters, limited edition mugs, commemorative plates, trading cards and dolls. Many of the items are imported and not sold anywhere else in Canada. Pieces like Gone with the Wind and Wizard of Oz jewelry boxes. The store stays true to it’s roots even though the movie rental section now dominates the space. Movie Art Decor also sells films, both new and used, snacks and drinks but the store offers so much more and everything is detailed on their website. Movieartdecor.com is a fantastic resource offering a database of all available films in Movie Art Decor’s collection, special orders, transfer services, specials and more.

Hidden Gems

Movie Art Decor carries all the standard genres but also have special sections to give lesser known movies a little more attention like the section called “Sleeper Hits”. A showcase for smaller films that may have gotten overshadowed by the big blockbusters. Films such as, Fish Tank , Hunger , Bad Lieutenant (The Nick Cage version), Anvil! The Story of Anvil and Three Blind Mice . Unlike most video stores Movie Art Decor has maintained a potion of its VHS collection. Any film that has not yet been released on DVD has been kept in circulation such as House of the Long Shadows a film starring Vincent Price, Christopher Lee, Peter Cushing and John Carradine. A rare film they only discovered in their collection when a renter asked for a copy after searching in vain everywhere else. Even though it was on VHS he happily rented it.

Why Choose to Get Off the Couch

After thirty years in the business what does Guca think about the on demand movie trend and illegal downloading? “I would suspect that the video store has a maximum of ten years of life and then they will be extinct. The narrowing of the gap between when films are in theatre and when they are available for free to the viewer shifts the balance for renting.” Guca explains. “The window for rentals is shrinking.” The internet and all it has to offer film lovers is the next evolutionary step in the home viewing experience in Guca’s opinion. Though he doesn’t harbor any ill feelings for the internet and is even planning to take his merchandise sales online. “We do have a very large selection of posters that we don’t even have room to display.” Guca says and realizes that the web will give them a chance to showcase their wares.

Staff Favorites

Movie Art Decor has a “Choice” section which allows the staff to pick their favorite films and share them with the customers. The choices change every month and can range from anywhere from Glengarry Glen Ross and Deadwood to The Three Stooges Collection and Romancing the Stone . While selling off the VHS films Guca discovered an old favorite, now on DVD and added Splash to his choices. Which films are Guca’s all time favorites? “Everyone always laughs when I say this, but my favorite film is Forbidden Planet .” His other favorite films include any John Candy films (not counting the last three), Abbott and Costello and last but certainly not least is The Godfather .

Movie Art Decor is a shrine to all things cinematic. The bright atmosphere and fantastic selection make the search for that perfect film an absolute pleasure. There is no surprise why Movie Art Decor has lasted so long; they are doing something they are passionate about and doing it well. Such is the recipe for a great independent video store.

The Skinny

The Place: Movie Art Decor

Hours: Mon -Thurs: 11:00 am-11:00 pm; Fri – Sat: 11:00 am-11:00 pm; Sun: Noon -10:00 pm

Find It At: 1566 Bloor Street West

Call “˜Em: (416) 532-8370

On the Web: www.movieartdecor.com

Size of Selection: 17,000

Needed to Rent: Credit Card and Picture I.D.

Cost to Rent: $5.25 for new releases (premium member cost $5) for one evening rental. $2.99 for 3 day catalogue rentals or 7 days if you rent more than two. Box sets are rented by the disk depending on length.