Leo's Videos for sale

After 15 years of owning and operating Leo’s Videos, Leo Bartels has put the store up for sale.

Leo Bartels’ interest in business has waned.

“Honestly, I’ve found I’m not great at some of the aspects of business,” said the owner of Kelowna’s only remaining video rental and sales store, Leo’s Videos.

“At first I loved that never-ending list of things to do. Now I don’t.”

So, Bartels has put Leo’s Videos up for sale for an undisclosed amount.

“I’m not saying how much it’s listed for because I want people to be serious if they are interested in buying the business,” said Bartels. “But it’s a reasonable price.”

Bartels, 40, is expecting his first child soon and wants to go back to school to qualify as a high school teacher.

“Ever since I was in high school, I wanted to be a high school teacher,” he said.

“But, I got sidetracked by the business thing.”

Not that Bartels regrets for a second owning and operating Leo’s Videos for the past 15 years.

“I really want the video store to remain open and be a part of the community,” he said. “But it can’t be with me as the owner anymore.”

The most straightforward sale would be to someone who would continue to run the store as a business at its current location at 2680 Pandosy St.

But there’s also the option of a buyer setting up a non-profit society to run the store.

A community group could fundraise to buy the store and operate it like a library where customers pay fees.

Or, a collection of investors could buy the store and keep it open as some sort of collective.

Bartels plans to keep the store on the market until the end of September.

If it hasn’t sold by that point, he will consider closing the store and selling off the inventory of more than 25,000 movies to make money.

In this day and age of digital downloads and streaming directly to your TV or smartphone, a video store is a dinosaur.

That’s why Leo’s is the lone remaining video store in Kelowna.

All the other independents and chains have vanished.

Remember Blockbuster and Rogers Video?

But Bartels said there’s still a place for a lone video store in Kelowna.

“The store continues to be a thriving community hub where families and community members congregate to chat with staff, each other and share the movie rental experience, which has become all too rare in the era of digital,” he said.

“Every day, customers share with me how grateful they are the store is still here and how much it means to them and their families to be able to rent quality movies from a formidable selection.”

The 1,500-square-foot store in the Southgate strip mall also has a certain charm.

The DVDs are stacked by genre and alphabetically on unfinished wood shelves made by Bartels and his friends.

And, more often than not, it will be Bartels manning the store, recommending movies and checking you out at the cash register behind the popcorn and candy counter.

Leo’s Videos has 3,800 active accounts, and 70 new accounts are opened by customers every month.

“I believe Leo’s still offers immeasurable value to Kelowna and the surrounding area,” said Bartels.

With 25,000 titles available for rent and sale, Bartels pointed out Leo’s Videos offers more variety and choice than both Netflix and Shaw on Demand.

Netflix has about 5,500 titles on offer, and Shaw on Demand has under 10,000.

Depending on what you pay for Netflix and/or on-demand services, and how much you watch, the $6 at Leo’s for the rental of a new release and $3 for an older release is competitive.

Streaming and on-demand services tend to have exclusive deals with movie studios and distributors, so they have only partial collections.

Even then, movies usually don’t show up on streaming and on-demand services until they’ve been available on DVD or Blu-ray for a while.

Leo’s gets all the latest movies on DVD and Blu-ray immediately from all studios and distributors.

Bartels said DVD and Blu-ray also provides a crisp picture on today’s big, surround-sound TVs.

Streaming and on-demand services tend not to offer the same quality surround sound or perfect picture, according to Bartels.

By the way, Bartels’ favourite movie is 1996’s A Time to Kill, the racially charged thriller set in the American Deep South starring Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock, based on John Grisham’s novel.

Three of the most rented movies from the store are titles you’ve probably never heard of: Bella, an unlikely New York romance; Hunt for the Wilderpeople, a New Zealand manhunt film; and the dialogue-driven sci-fi flick Man From Earth. All three have timeless themes, and Bartels is recommending them all the time to movie lovers looking for something besides the latest Avengers superhero offering.

If you want to buy Leo’s Videos, or know someone who might, Bartels wants to hear from you at 250-808-4699 or bartelsleo@gmail.com.

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