Ernie Skinner and his family have been coming to Sidney’s Star Cinema for years and when he heard of their effort to raise money to stay open, he just had to help.
Skinner is the owner of the award-winning Market on Yates in downtown Victoria and he lives in North Saanich. He was in town Oct. 11 to donate $10,000 to the local movie house’s drive to raise $200,000 to help modernize their facility with a new, digital projector. More and more films have converted to digital-only format, so to stay open, the business had to adapt. They have been asking the community for help and Skinner and his family, for one, are happy to do so.
“I’ve been here many times,” he said, “and I’ve been able to step out of reality for a while, watching a movie.”
He said he really enjoys the Star Cinema’s decor, which is a bit of a throwback to the simpler, smaller theatres that once existed in many communities.
“If Sidney is to lose this bit of it’s identity, it will be a lessening of a place,” he explained. “Small business people here really make the difference.”
Skinner should know, he operates a grocery store in downtown Victoria and faced competition from larger stores, warehouse operations and malls. He said it’s a challenge and thinks small business can survive it.
“There are the customers that still want a smaller shopping experience.”
It’s there that his son-in-law Darryl Hein (married to his daughter Christine) had a small-town experience. When he attended the Star Cinema a few years back with his children, he forgot to bring payment. The theatre staff said no problem and got them into the movie — popcorn and all — and trusted him enough to return later to pay the bill.
“It’s family-friendly and we’ve been coming here for a while,” said Christine, who lives in Brentwood Bay.
The donation brought the Star Cinema’s fund-raising total to $115,723.95 as of Thursday, Oct. 11. For more details about the effort, visit www.starcinema.ca.