Castlemaine’s Video Ezy has closed its doors for the final time, as video stores around the region continue to be wound back by market pressures.
Yesterday’s closure leaves one rental store open in Castlemaine and five video stores in Bendigo.
Local video store owners say they’re having to adapt their businesses to survive, with the rental industry in a global slump.
It follows a trend of internet downloads, pirated discs and competing entertainment options that’s pausing the growth of the DVD rental market, they say.
Castlemaine and Bendigo Video Ezy franchise owner Paul Uniacke said the reality was that Castlemaine couldn’t support two video stores.
“The business is forever changing. Where some towns could support three stores there may now be only two,” he said.
“There wasn’t a drastic decline in business at the store, it just couldn’t be sustained.”
Mr Uniacke said he expected demand for rentals to remain steady while the industry continued to evolve.
“Over the next year or two you’ll see more DVD rental kiosks popping up and changing the way we do business a bit,” he said.
Kangaroo Flat Family Videoland owner Lizette Jackson-Maher said change in viewer habits and easy access to videos online were impacting rental stores.
She said there was a relatively strong rental market in Australia compared to the US where video companies have gone bankrupt.
“It’s a lot of little pieces of the rental industry that have been taken away over time. Once upon a time it was the only way to get a movie,” Ms Jackson-Maher said.
“At the moment I’m unable to employ anybody else to do hours here where before I’ve had quite a number of staff.
“It’s impacting on local jobs.”
Ms Jackson-Maher said the store, which has been open more than 30 years, recently branched out to more specialised genres, such as Japanese anime cartoons, to attract customers.
“When we first took over we didn’t dream of anime, but we saw it as a niche. A lot of video stores have diversified into other areas with in-store businesses such as stocking party supplies.”
Castlemaine Family Videoland owner Scott Dew said he was optimistic about the level of local support.
“We’ve seen a lot of closures in cities but in the country we’ve got a slightly different demographic with older people who don’t download as much,” he said.
“People still meet here and get their fish and chips on a Friday night.”
After Castlemaine Video Ezy announced its closure, Mr Dew said Family Videoland had received an extra 150 members.
It has also looked at alternate business options, with an Optus phone dealership now set up in-store.
Fast forward a few years and the store might look completely different, Mr Dew said.
He said the interest in renting DVDs would always be there as stores “change along the way to adapt to customer needs”.
“It may decline a bit, but for us every year we’ve been opened since 2005 we’ve grown,” Mr Dew said.
“You’ve got to keep evolving your business.”