Leo Bartel kept the film rolling for as long as he could.
A forced sale; a triumphant return — it could be the story of one of the over 24,000 films he rented out at his shop, Leo’s Video.
But now, in an M. Night Shyamalan-style twist brought on by a worldwide pandemic, Bartel is giving his final farewell. By the end of the month, Leo’s will close once again.
Bartel said it would be inappropriate to remain open as COVID-19 continues to progress and the closure, which he believes will be lengthy and cause irreparable damage to the business, has forced him to begin selling off stock.
“For collectors, this will be a final opportunity to find those films you have been looking for and for the casual movie fan a chance to stockpile a selection for viewing during these extended periods at home,” said Bartel.
Bartel has given his employees the option to self-isolate and three, including Bartel, have chosen to do so. Due to having a newborn at home, Bartel feels it’s prudent to minimize risks to his family, so his last day behind the counter at Leo’s is March 19.
For now, the store will remain open on the weekends as long as the staff members feel comfortable working.
“I’ve told my staff they have absolutely no obligation to work under these circumstances,” he said. “It’s completely up to them.”
If it weren’t for the inability to remain at full operating hours, Bartel said the store would likely be doing better than ever.
As self-isolation became more prevalent, the number of films Leo’s was renting out was skyrocketing.
But concern for his staff, his family and his patrons reigned supreme.
“We are deeply sorry that this is very likely the end of Leo’s Videos as a physical shop and hope to see you all online in the future,” he said. “We have so many great memories serving the community of Kelowna and we wish you all the best.”
All is not lost, however, as Bartel anticipates some 20,000 films remaining after the closing sale. He plans on opening an online venture where people can buy whatever remains.
Through the sale, Bartel asks that customers who are sick or experiencing any symptoms stay home. Customers will be asked to wash their hands upon entering Leo’s Video.