from Network Video at Coolum, packs the shelves with DVDs.
from Network Video at Coolum, packs the shelves with DVDs. Warren Lynam

Surge in holiday love for the old-school DVD shops

A RESURGENCE in love for the old-school tradition of browsing the video store aisles has seen a massive spike in DVD rental across the Coast this summer.

Network Video Coolum owner Vikki Kelk is in the middle of the busiest holiday period since her store opened 18 years ago.

"We're the busiest I've been in 18 years. It's crazy," she said.

The Coolum shop is one of a handful of independent DVD rental stores reaping the benefits of Blockbuster and Video Ezy's departure from the Coast over the past two years. The two remaining Blockbuster stores at Buderim and Currimundi closed last year as the company made a strategic decision to focus on footpath "kiosks".

While Blockbuster kiosks have not yet appeared, the Coast has seen a number of Hoyts kiosks spring up at busy shopping hubs, and at least one new video shop also has sprung to life.

Network Video Buderim owner Leah Jones said when the Buderim Blockbuster store closed down in April last year, she had seen an opportunity.

"Blockbuster was a big franchise - they took out 10 to 15-year leases, and once they were up they shut their stores," she said.

"In Buderim, people like personal service and that was a lot of what I heard when they closed. So I was happy to fill that void."

She opened her shop at Buderim Mall in May. People were going back to "good old personal service" and wanted to hold a physical copy of a DVD in their hands, she said.

"With everything going to technology, not everyone trusts the kiosk," she said.

"You can't go in and ask a kiosk what a movie's like. People come in and want to know what a good action or a good comedy is.

"It makes a difference being able to actually speak to someone."

Business had been "flat out" since she opened, particularly in the holiday season, she said.

At Network Video Coolum Beach, hundreds of customers were streaming through the doors daily looking for

everything from TV series to family classics and the latest blockbusters, Ms Kelk said.

She said the demand for service was such that five staff were needed in her shop every day.

Staff spent a lot of time watching movies and were well-equipped to help customers make the best choice, Ms Kelk said. "When I watch a movie, I'm deciding what customers are going to like about it," she said.

Ms Kelk said she would have certain regular customers in mind for particular movies. Some customers came in on the same day every week and hired a set of weekly rentals, and other regulars came in every day for a new release to watch after work, she said.

Customers told her they were frustrated with online entertainment options such as Netflix.

She said one of her customers was a subscriber to four cable TV and online movie-streaming services but he couldn't hire the popular 2009 Disney film Up.

"He was blown away," she said. "He was like, 'I can't believe I'm paying all this money and I can't even get simple films'."

People tended to go to DVD kiosks for blockbuster new releases but came to stores like hers for anything independent, art house, or older, Ms Kelk said.

Ms Kelk believed it was the business structure of Network Video that allowed owners to survive when local franchisees of Video Ezy and Blockbuster had not.

Her business is part of a co-operative, not a franchise.

"Being a co-op, you don't have pay-back fees and licence fees that you do with (for example) Video Ezy," she said.

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