“Nutflakes really wants to be part of building community rather than increasing isolation.”

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New businesses and non-profit organizations are regularly opening and moving to Saskatoon. Today the StarPhoenix speaks with the Reverend Mark Kleiner who, along with more than 20 volunteers, stepped back in time in the basement of Christ Anglican Church to the days of renting videotapes and DVDs .

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Their nonprofit, Nutflakes, offers VHS, DVD, and Blu-ray rentals, and even a small collection of beta titles. Video players are also available. Membership is free and they do not accept payment for rentals, but collect voluntary donations which all go directly to helping the hunger problem in the city.

Despite limited hours of operation — 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays — Kleiner is happy to say that along with other church initiatives, they have raised $8,000 to date for CHEP (Child Hunger Education Program) Good Food Incorporated.


Kirtis Crowe and revered Mark Kleiner karate cut VHS tapes at the Nutflakes video rental store in the basement of Christ Church Anglican in Caswell Hill.

Q: How did the idea for a video rental store come about?

A: It was a group of us at church thinking about what we wanted to do to serve and interact with the wider community, and the idea of ​​opening a video store came up. We liked the idea.

Admittedly, there is a lack of video libraries in the city. It used to be part of the culture, but one of the nice things about living in the city is having random encounters with our neighbors. Of course, that’s made very difficult now, with COVID. However, we are thinking beyond COVID. We are trying to establish a neighborhood center specifically in Caswell Hill where people can come and meet their neighbour.

Nutflakes really wants to be part of building community rather than increasing isolation. Movies are quite a fun way. They are a great conversation starter.

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Q: Where did you acquire your video collection?

A: We knew we would need a lot of partners in the community; that includes people from the church, but it’s also a lot of people from all over Saskatoon and indeed western Canada.

We have a donor who sent 1,200 films from Winnipeg. We have another gentleman who donated about 5,000 titles, and he’s from town. And it was an incredible gift. And then there was everything from many small donations to many medium-sized donations.

We are humbled and grateful to receive all film and tape donations, as long as they are not pre-recorded, as then there are copyright issues. We also received many donations of VCRs and DVD players. No laserdiscs yet, but the door is open to that.

Q: How big is your video collection?

A: We were able to build a library of around 10,000 titles that we are still sorting and categorizing and finding fun ways to curate and display the stock.

We only have a fraction (of the 10,000 titles) available. When you walk into Nutflakes in the church, the room is jam-packed with titles and we note people’s special requests and strive to locate them to connect people with the movies they are looking for. However, curation is a work in progress. We have a small base of very active volunteers working on their treatment.

The goal is to really get the titles available and keep the stock turning.

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Q: Do you also offer snacks?

A: One of the things we’ve also done is partner with Nutty Club, which is based in Winnipeg with a franchise in Regina, and they’ve been shipping classic Nutty Club candy to us so people can get Nutty Club candy at Nutflakes. It seemed like a natural partnership.

So you can get a box of pink popcorn with a price and it’s only 75 cents. We’re selling it as a loss leader to just improve people’s experience and hopefully bring more people into the store. Everything is done on the basis of voluntary donations except the sweets which are sold at cost price.

Q: What is the general reaction of people when they walk through the doors of Nutflakes for the first time?

A: I guess it depends if people have historical experience of going to the video store. For some people who have that – and that’s a lot of people who come – I think at first it’s a nostalgic experience to just search for movies that way.

This is something many of us haven’t done in a very long time. There’s that kind of memory warmth. For some of our young clients, it’s more of a fascination with something they may have heard of, but never experienced for themselves.

Q: I understand that you have launched many other initiatives beyond the simple rental of video cassettes?

A: We have a lot of fun with that. When you come to Nutflakes there is a local historical exhibit that changes from month to month. We will be launching a line of T-shirts honoring various aspects of local history as well as the Nutflakes swag, coming later this year.

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We also have the CHEP Community Market, which happens at exactly the same time as Nutflakes on Fridays at the church adjacent to us, the same hours as Nutflakes. We did this intentionally so people could come see a movie and buy some fresh produce as well.

We plan to open a children’s area, so that all children’s films are in a separate room. We are currently working on producing online content. Nutflakes TV will be coming, and we are also planning to do church film screenings when we can do it again.

Nutflakes is a great place to host a sleepover. We’ll be offering this later this year so people can come with their full bubble and have a movie night.

We will also have a malt shop, once we get through the worst of COVID it will be called Chill. High school kids can have a place to grab a milkshake, much like the old (TV show) Happy Days.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Walnut flakes

Nonprofit Coordinator: Mark Kleiner
Address: 515 West 28th Street (basement of Christ Church Anglican)
Hours: Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (film return box open 24/7)
Call: 306-222-3844
E-mail: [email protected]
To verify: Facebook

Kirtis Crowe and revered Mark Kleiner karate cut VHS tapes at the Nutflakes video rental store in the basement of Christ Church Anglican in Caswell Hill.
Kirtis Crowe and revered Mark Kleiner karate cut VHS tapes at the Nutflakes video rental store in the basement of Christ Church Anglican in Caswell Hill. Photo by Michelle Berg /Star Phoenix of Saskatoon

Have you recently started or moved a new business or non-profit organization to Saskatoon? We want to know your story. Please email [email protected]

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