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$10,000 gift for Sidney cinema

Oct 11 2012

Ernie Skinner is going to Star Cinema this morning - not to see a movie, but to help ensure he'll be able to see many more there.

After reading in last Saturday's Times Colonist about the small Sidney twin cinema's struggle for survival, the award-winning grocer and movie buff suggested his family donate $10,000 to help the cinema pay for a costly conversion from film to digital. The theatre has raised close to $120,000 toward its $200,000 goal.

"I love that theatre. It's an absolute step back in time, such a breath of fresh air in this day of technology," said Skinner, the affable founder of the Markets on Yates and Millstream stores and original partner with the late Alex Campbell in Thrifty Foods.

Skinner, who recently lost his wife Carol to cancer, will present a cheque to owner Sandy Oliver this morning with his daughter Christine Hein. She and her husband, Darryl, and their five daughters aged 16 to 24 have their own fond memories, she said.

When Darryl took four of his daughters to a movie at the Star years ago and learned there was no debit machine, he was pleasantly surprised when staff told him they should just enjoy their movie and treats and pay later on the honour system.

"Those are gestures you remember," Christine said. "From that point on, we said this is the type of place we want to support."

Skinner admitted he has an ulterior motive. He and granddaughter Stephanie, 22, have talked about going to see a movie a week together at the Star this fall.

"If Sidney loses this little gem, it's going to lose part of its identity," he said.

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