Internet killed the DVD star

“We are in an industry that has reached the end of the line.”

“We are in an industry that has reached the end of the line.”

END OF AN ERA: Analogue TV has gone forever and now the digital age is catching up with visual entertainment as more people access movies online. Video Ezy owners Pete and Cindy Fussell have seen the writing on the wall for DVD rentals and are closing down, as is the nearby United Video outlet. Picture by Rebecca Grunwell
File photo

There is no future in the DVD industry, says Lo’ren Pen, one of two Gisborne DVD rental store owners about to close their doors. Gisborne’s United Video outlet has been a family business for eight years. Mr Pen has run the shop for the past four years but will close the DVD rental and games arcade permanently at the end of March.

“I stopped buying stock six months ago. It was about then I started selling DVDs.”

He gave notice to the store’s landlord at around the same time. Unlike countries such as Australia and USA, and New Zealand’s bigger cities, Gisborne has held on to its DVD businesses because the city is so isolated.

“A lot of Gisborne’s 20-to-30-year-olds go overseas. That means the very young and older people are the main market.”

The very young could not afford the technology to access online movies and older people tended not to use it.

“But as time went on and technology improved, internet, broadband and cellphones became cheaper and more accessible for the younger and older generations.”

In 2002, the DVD retail industry worldwide was worth about $20 billion. By about 2010, revenue from the global industry had plummeted to $1.9 billion.

“I think that is about when Netflix and other online viewing options came in.”

DVD rental industry reflects future of retail stores

People can now watch movies on their phones wherever they are. What is happening to the DVD rental industry reflects the future of the retail store as a whole, says Mr Pen.

“In the Gisborne marketplace, a lot of retail outlets have closed down. People can shop online from their phones now.”

Because many people budget for food and rent in a low socio-economic environment, they take the cheaper, online consumer option, says Mr Pen.

“A lot of low-income Gisborne families are aware online vendors can sell you product just above wholesale prices. Most online delivery is free, so products are easier to access.”

Some face-to-face retail will survive

The face-to-face retail industries Mr Pen foresees as surviving the digital revolution are fitness, hospitality and technology (such as solar panel installation and LED lighting).

“Anything else you can buy in retail stores you can buy online. Customers have no choice but to follow the latest trend as devices and software are constantly upgraded.”

Consumers are conditioned to upgrade by subtle means such as repeated interaction through updating with apps such as Spotify and Google.

“It creates subconscious habits in the consumer. Once the habit is made, it is hard to break.”

The store will close after its final sale on March 1. Mr Pen does not want to say what he has planned next except “watch this space”.

'We're here for people seeking escape or stimulation'

Video Ezy owner Pete Fussell also saw the writing on the wall for DVDs. As part of a franchise, he had to decide if he was prepared to commit to Video Ezy for another 12 months or pull the plug. With three video outlets in Gisborne, Mr Fussell was prepared for Video Ezy to be “the last man on the block” but belonging to a franchise entails commitment.

“You have to look at the audit and ask yourself, ‘is it worth it?’”

Changes in people’s consumer habits, the impact of movie piracy and accessibility to movie downloads and web movie sites such as Netflix, signalled the end of the DVD rental industry, he said.

“Netflix and the like do not have the new movies or depth of catalogue we have, but it is a sign of the times. It has been like that for several years.”

Mr Fussell opened his doors for business 21 years ago on January 20.

“We had the Warriors here in Gisborne. It was a high-rolling time.”

The personal touch and rapport with regular customers particularly makes relinquishing the business hard.

“I have customers who joined Video Ezy that first day. They have supported us. I am going to miss them. It is an emotional thing. These people are your friends. I have had people come in and say ‘my kids will not ever know what a DVD is'. I have always said to staff, ‘we’re here for people seeking escape or stimulation’. It is an experience — not just a DVD, but an experience.

“Interaction is a huge part of this business,” says Mr Fussell. “You will not get that online but we are in an industry that has reached the end of the line.”

With a sale on of 21 years of movies to mark the end of that line, Mr Fussell says he is selling his business.

“I am selling it to everyone.”

'We believe there is a place for a DVD store'

Grey Street Lotto and DVD store Video Works will soon be the last DVD rental business standing in Gisborne. Like United Video, the store has a second string.

“We are lucky to have Lotto,” says co-owner Sarah Easton. “The business is for sale but we have no plans to close it down. We believe there is a place for a DVD store. There are still a lot of people who like to come in and pick up DVDs, and read the information on the back.”

Many customers like the browsing experience, she says.

“You will walk through there and see something you have not seen for years and think ‘I would like to see that again’.”

The store’s customers vary in age and many cannot be bothered with downloading movies.

“Younger people might not rent on a regular basis but if there is a movie they want to see, they do come in. You can get anything off the internet but we still get people who want to buy a DVD, but do not go online to buy stuff. We are here for them.”

There is no future in the DVD industry, says Lo’ren Pen, one of two Gisborne DVD rental store owners about to close their doors. Gisborne’s United Video outlet has been a family business for eight years. Mr Pen has run the shop for the past four years but will close the DVD rental and games arcade permanently at the end of March.

“I stopped buying stock six months ago. It was about then I started selling DVDs.”

He gave notice to the store’s landlord at around the same time. Unlike countries such as Australia and USA, and New Zealand’s bigger cities, Gisborne has held on to its DVD businesses because the city is so isolated.

“A lot of Gisborne’s 20-to-30-year-olds go overseas. That means the very young and older people are the main market.”

The very young could not afford the technology to access online movies and older people tended not to use it.

“But as time went on and technology improved, internet, broadband and cellphones became cheaper and more accessible for the younger and older generations.”

In 2002, the DVD retail industry worldwide was worth about $20 billion. By about 2010, revenue from the global industry had plummeted to $1.9 billion.

“I think that is about when Netflix and other online viewing options came in.”

DVD rental industry reflects future of retail stores

People can now watch movies on their phones wherever they are. What is happening to the DVD rental industry reflects the future of the retail store as a whole, says Mr Pen.

“In the Gisborne marketplace, a lot of retail outlets have closed down. People can shop online from their phones now.”

Because many people budget for food and rent in a low socio-economic environment, they take the cheaper, online consumer option, says Mr Pen.

“A lot of low-income Gisborne families are aware online vendors can sell you product just above wholesale prices. Most online delivery is free, so products are easier to access.”

Some face-to-face retail will survive

The face-to-face retail industries Mr Pen foresees as surviving the digital revolution are fitness, hospitality and technology (such as solar panel installation and LED lighting).

“Anything else you can buy in retail stores you can buy online. Customers have no choice but to follow the latest trend as devices and software are constantly upgraded.”

Consumers are conditioned to upgrade by subtle means such as repeated interaction through updating with apps such as Spotify and Google.

“It creates subconscious habits in the consumer. Once the habit is made, it is hard to break.”

The store will close after its final sale on March 1. Mr Pen does not want to say what he has planned next except “watch this space”.

'We're here for people seeking escape or stimulation'

Video Ezy owner Pete Fussell also saw the writing on the wall for DVDs. As part of a franchise, he had to decide if he was prepared to commit to Video Ezy for another 12 months or pull the plug. With three video outlets in Gisborne, Mr Fussell was prepared for Video Ezy to be “the last man on the block” but belonging to a franchise entails commitment.

“You have to look at the audit and ask yourself, ‘is it worth it?’”

Changes in people’s consumer habits, the impact of movie piracy and accessibility to movie downloads and web movie sites such as Netflix, signalled the end of the DVD rental industry, he said.

“Netflix and the like do not have the new movies or depth of catalogue we have, but it is a sign of the times. It has been like that for several years.”

Mr Fussell opened his doors for business 21 years ago on January 20.

“We had the Warriors here in Gisborne. It was a high-rolling time.”

The personal touch and rapport with regular customers particularly makes relinquishing the business hard.

“I have customers who joined Video Ezy that first day. They have supported us. I am going to miss them. It is an emotional thing. These people are your friends. I have had people come in and say ‘my kids will not ever know what a DVD is'. I have always said to staff, ‘we’re here for people seeking escape or stimulation’. It is an experience — not just a DVD, but an experience.

“Interaction is a huge part of this business,” says Mr Fussell. “You will not get that online but we are in an industry that has reached the end of the line.”

With a sale on of 21 years of movies to mark the end of that line, Mr Fussell says he is selling his business.

“I am selling it to everyone.”

'We believe there is a place for a DVD store'

Grey Street Lotto and DVD store Video Works will soon be the last DVD rental business standing in Gisborne. Like United Video, the store has a second string.

“We are lucky to have Lotto,” says co-owner Sarah Easton. “The business is for sale but we have no plans to close it down. We believe there is a place for a DVD store. There are still a lot of people who like to come in and pick up DVDs, and read the information on the back.”

Many customers like the browsing experience, she says.

“You will walk through there and see something you have not seen for years and think ‘I would like to see that again’.”

The store’s customers vary in age and many cannot be bothered with downloading movies.

“Younger people might not rent on a regular basis but if there is a movie they want to see, they do come in. You can get anything off the internet but we still get people who want to buy a DVD, but do not go online to buy stuff. We are here for them.”

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