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Metro Vancouver student launches first 'Free Blockbuster' in B.C., third in Canada

It works like a little library.

Remember visiting the video rental shop with your family and picking out a VHS or DVD?

Matthew Reed, a Grade 12 student at Walnut Grove Senior Secondary in Langley, does, and has started his very own 'Free Blockbuster.' Akin to the little libraries spotted around town, the Free Blockbusters idea started in the U.S. and is just beginning to cross the border (the map of locations shows two in Edmonton).

People are able to come and take, add or borrow videos as they please.

Reed's a big fan of films, especially physical copies of them (he has over 300 tapes and discs), and was inspired when he saw the idea online.

"He thought there'd be some other people out there who also like the nostalgia of having a VHS or a DVD," says his mother Michelle Watson.

Reed, who's on the autism spectrum, took the idea to his teacher Jeffrey Trampleasure and turned it into his Capstone project.

"To have a teacher that supports him doing something that's just different is really cool," says Watson.

At first, the plan was to build a little cabinet. But with lumber prices what they are these days, Reed found an outdoor cabinet at Ikea, built it and spray-painted it bright blue, using stickers to give it that proper Blockbuster look.

The finished little video shop was set up on the family's front lawn earlier this week — and it's already drawing people in, including Trampleasure.

"He wants to see what I've been making," says Reed. "He swung by yesterday."

In the short time it's been operating, it's drawn in borrowers and new material.

"One person came by; she had two big bags of videos and DVDs. They were heavy," says Reed. "There were 108 movies in those bags."

Films aren't the only items passersby can take. The high school student has even made little membership cards.

He hopes that the little shop will recapture a bit of what he was excited for as a child.

"He misses that experience as a family and that excitement of trying to find a treasure at a movie store," says Watson.

At its peak in 2004, there were almost 9,100 blockbusters worldwide. There's now just one, in Bend, Oregon.

"The Blockbuster in Walnut Grove is now a dollar store," Reed says, wistfully.

His Free Blockbuster can be found at 21496 83B Ave. in Langley, near the 216 Street exit off Highway 1.