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The white and green sign above all three 2Q Video stores is as simple and straight forward as the philosophy of the store’s owners; quality films and quick service. It is a philosophy that they take seriously and the people of three different Toronto neighborhoods are the ones who benefit from 2Q’s quality selection and creative renting solutions.

History

The origin of 2Q Video began while owner Tu Nguyen was working at his mother’s video store. His mother’s store lacked the expanded catalogue that a great independent video store requires and Nguyen wanted to do more. Another employee, named Phuong Pham, who would eventually become Tu’s fiancé, wanted the same and they set out to open their own store. They pooled their efforts resulting in the first of three 2Q locations which opened its doors at 830 Bloor St. West at Ossington in 2004. The people of the neighborhood embraced them quickly. “We researched and tried to get the best quality movies, foreign, documentary and the films that really tell a story,” Nguyen says. After the success of the Bloor and Ossington location they opened two more stores, one at 938 St.Clair West (just east of Dufferin) and the third at 841 Queen St. West. The Queen store used to be Nguyen’s mother’s store, where he and Pham met.  “It was sliding down and they wanted us to bring it back up,” Nguyen remembers.  The two have taken that fledgling store and turned it into another excellent independent 2Q Video location. So where does the name 2Q come from? “My name is Tu so some people joke that I wanted my name in the store’s name but we wanted the two Qs to represent Quality for quality movies and Q for quick service by using tools like the website to give the customer the ability to choose movies quicker.”

Renting

To get a membership at 2Q you just need photo identification and a credit card. This will get you access to their selection of over 25,000 movies. 2Q carries DVD and Blu-Ray and both cost $5 for a two night new release and $4 for any other seven day rental. Box sets are rented for $4 for the first disk and $2 for each additional disk. 2Q also has an appreciation points reward program. Every time you rent a film 100 or 150 points is added automatically to your account. When you reach 3000 points you can redeem them for a free seven day rental or 3700 points earns you a new release rental. They also offer gift certificates for the film lover in your family.

Frequent Renters

The most popular rentals at 2Q come from the TV series and foreign films sections.   Series like In Treatment and the Greek film Dogtooth . They have many different sections and are most proud of their Canadian film catalogue; most popular among them is The Illusionist . “People should see more Canadian film. A lot of them are good and we don’t see a lot of people renting them.” 2Q has a large children’s section and they are happy to see that families frequent their store. Nguyen and Pham have seen thousands of movies go through their store but films like The Big Lebowski seem to get rented more than others. In terms of older films the Criterion Collection has breathed new life into some older films that might have went under the radar for younger viewers.

2Q's impressive foreign section

The Inside Scoop

Above and beyond the renting of movies 2Q has held a special charity in order to help fed starving families in Vietnam. Because of the economy in the last couple of years Nguyen felt the need to postpone the charity because he didn’t want to make renter’s feel like they had to contribute if they didn’t have extra funds, but he is planning on reinstating it again soon. The advantage of his charity is that the money raised to help the poor people in Vietnam is taken directly to Vietnam by Pham’s mother who purchases rice herself and makes sure it get to the people who need it most. The results of the charity are posted on the website and you can see just how many people your donations actually helped.

Hidden Gems

The 2Q website is one of the features that sets 2Q apart from most stores. (http://www.2qvideo.com) Their website allows customers to log in and browse their entire collection, review and rate movies, check return times and even download the catalogue number of a film and give it right to the person at the counter to make renting even easier. It is perfect for people’s busy schedules. “They can do their own research while they have time. Sometimes the customers don’t have the time to spend fifteen minutes or half an hour to find something to rent.” Pham adds. The web site can be accessed from a terminal in the store as well, allowing for quicker perusal of 2Q’s library.

It should be noted that the foreign films section at 2Q is very impressive. Shelves upon shelves of films are available from all over the world. Even though they don’t carry many films from their native Vietnam they have managed to put together a diverse and interesting collection of great films from around the world. Films like House of Flying Daggers , He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not , and The Diving Bell and the Butterfly .

Why Choose to Get Off the Couch

“We strongly believe that we carry a different kind of movie. We carry more foreign, documentary and the kinds of movies you can not download from the internet.” Nguyen says. He believes that the kind of clientele that go to the independent video stores can not be satisfied with the selection on the internet. “Netflix doesn’t have enough movies for the customers, like independent films. This is our focus.” Pham adds. Nguyen and Pham also believe that the service people receive from the video store employees is something that the internet can never duplicate. “The families want to come in with their children and share with their children the experience of choosing a movie and friends want to discuss movies when they rent, it is the social aspect,” Nguyen says adding, “We loose some customers in one are but gain others back in another.”

Staff Favorites

Search, Love, Rent

Though they do not have a Staff Favorites section the 2Q website does allow customers to review and rate their favorite movies. For them, the customer  dictates what is good and what isn’t. “We try to be the best that we can but we may miss here and there, but we listen to the customer and they tell us what they are looking for and we do the research to get it for them,” Nguyen says.

Nguyen himself is partial to V for Vendetta and The Men Who Stare at Goats . Pham says she loves the foreign films because they allow viewers to do the thinking and do not spoon feed the endings. Her favorite films are the Vietnam picture   Buffalo Boy , and The Last Emperor .

It is clear when talking to Nguyen and Pham that they run their stores with passion and have a great desire to provide the customer with the best films available. If you are in the neighborhood of any of their three stores you will not be disappointed when you dive into 2Q’s wonderful selection. I can’t say how quick the service truly is but there is no doubt that the quality is quite impressive.

The Skinny

The Place: 2Q Video

Hours: Mon -Thurs: 1:00 pm-11:00 pm; Fri – Sun: 12 pm-11:00 pm

Find It At: 841 Queen Street West (With two more locations at 830 Bloor Street West and 938 St. Clair West)

Call “˜Em: (416) 504-37013

On the Web: http://www.2qvideo.com

Size of Selection: 25,000 (!!!)

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

Cost to Rent: $5 for new releases for two evening rental.$4 for 7 day catalogue rentals. Box sets are rented by the disk for $4 for the first disk and $2 for each additional disk.