Fly by Nite, Oshawa’s one stop horror shop, ready to soar as COVID-19 restrictions ease


Published February 9, 2022 at 5:09 pm

Oshawa’s Fly by Nite: Movies, Toys and Games, described by owner Justin Ashley as the city’s one-stop horror shop, is ready to soar as COVID-19 restrictions ease across Ontario.

Fly By Nite has called Downtown Oshawa home for over five years, but Ashley’s passion for the games, films and collectibles he sells stretches back to high school.

Ashley said his eyes were opened to the wider world of video games through the earliest generations of gaming commentators on YouTube. “Everyone had a Nintendo” he said, “but not everyone had a Sega system.”

He began to frequent conventions and game swaps, buying up whole lots from yard sales and flea markets to build his collection. Ashley likened these early expeditions to, “the thrill of the hunt.”

To fund this newfound fascination, Ashley began to sell the excess games he accrued back to what he described as “the first-generation” of Oshawa’s game dealers, creating a side-hustle to support his hobby.

After college, during which he joked he “very maturely” spent some of his OSAP on his collections, Ashley decided he was going to open his own shop, turning his hobby into a career.

Channelling a love of pawn shops, he opened his store’s first incarnation as Fly by Nite: Buy and Sell, a more general pawn shop selling typical pawn shop fare; jewelry, tools and the like.

After operating as “Buy and Sell” for some time, Ashley realized he wasn’t happy serving that clientele that kind of stock. He decided to rebrand the store under the subtitle “Movies, Toys and Games”, aligning the store with his personal passions.

Ashley slowly sold off his general pawn shop goods and started amassing an extensive collection of nerdy merchandise such as video games and consoles from every generation and a film collection stretching to the origins of the medium (with a keen focus on horror, both iconic and obscure)

He also began to specialize into variety of collectible statues, along with highly-articulated and detailed figures for the collector’s market, “When I say toys I don’t mean dinky kids action figures,” he said. Moving away from solely second-hand items Ashley now orders the latest from the like of McFarlane and NECA.

Finally, Ashley built what he claims is the among the largest Funko Pop collections in Ontario, one he’s particularly proud of given noting his early jump aboard the bandwagon.

He says he recognized the inter-generational appeal of them early, “the kids may come in for the latest anime pop, but the parents are going to see the Ghostbusters pops.”

While Ashley wouldn’t share just how he tracks the Funko market to protect his trade secrets, he’s managed to get his hands on many of the rarer figurines, some of which are worth hundreds.

His collection got so large it could no longer be contained within his small shop. However, as he eyed expansion, COVID-19 arrived, temporarily scuttling his plans. Ashley estimates the pandemic and resulting lockdown put his business back by over year from its expected growth.

While the lockdown came shortly after the holiday shopping season, Ashley was shocked at how little his holiday earnings lasted, “You kill yourself working over Christmas, and then it was all pissed away,” he said.

Accepting that “luxury” markets like his were first on the provincial chopping block for lockdown, he said “I thought about shuttering the business, as I think a lot of businesses did.”

Instead, Ashley doubled down. He took the federal $40,000 Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) loan and invested it into a new location.

Describing his move down the street as a “tedious” process he would never want to do again, he packed up his shop and moved a few doors down to 15 Bond Street during lockdown.

The new location is “everything I always envisioned the store to be,” Ashley said. Lined with glass shelves displaying all manner of Nerdvana, he’s confident his store has become Oshawa’s one-stop-horror-shop, but his ambition hasn’t stopped there.

His next goal is to also become the “one-stop-anime-shop” and has branched into high-end anime figures, channelling yet another love from his childhood from before the recent move of the medium into the Western cultural mainstream.

When that goal is achieved, Ashley will not weep, for there are still more worlds to conquer. He’s still eyeing expansion, this time into a second location, but just where is another guarded secret.

When COVID-19 restrictions roll back further on February 21, Fly by Nite will be ready to soar to Ashley’s new objectives.

  1. Fly by Nite: Movies Games and Toys
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