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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Christchurch’s latest United Video store goes black

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It will be the end of an era this week in Christchurch, when the city’s last United Video store closes for good.

New Brighton United Video store, Christchurch’s latest United Video store, is closing after approximately 25 years of operation.
Photo: RNZ / Rachel Graham

The New Brighton store has been in operation for around 25 years and was once one of more than 100 United videos scattered across the country.

Darren Scott, who bought the business in New Brighton in 2001, said it had been difficult to go out of business.

“There are quality people in New Brighton. They can’t afford to have Netflix and Sky and whatnot, but they can afford to go down maybe once a month and catch a handful of movies for. $ 10, or a movie every week for $ 2, and that’s their source of entertainment. “

He said he previously owned several DVD stores in Christchurch, but around 2017-18 they started to see a real drop in sales.

The New Brighton store was his last DVD store.

He said Covid-19 was the death knell for the store, with the lack of new releases, due to the closure of cinemas overseas and the fact that movie studios were not releasing major titles due to the pandemic.

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“Covid has had a major impact, not from the customers who come, but more from our product. The big movie studios don’t produce the big blockbuster movies or don’t relay them, so it’s very difficult for our customers to come and rent something they’re used to, when they only have a handful of B-quality movies in front of them. “

Barbara Drayton was a regular at the New Brighton DVD store, and when RNZ visited she had a bag full of DVDs which are now for sale rather than rent.

She said she would miss the personal touch of a local DVD store.

“Too bad to see him go. It’s going to be a bit of a gap in the community, and the lovely Salina downstairs will be missed. We’re talking about the different movies we’ve watched and what we enjoyed.”

Jeremy Lillico works nearby and makes good use of the DVD store, but admits that a lot of his friends think it’s weird that he still rents DVDs.

“They just say things like, ‘I didn’t even know there were DVD stores around.’ I’m sure it’s one of the last in that part of Christchurch, or at all in Christchurch . “

He said he would particularly miss visits with his daughter to choose a film.

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“We like to choose together. I grew up with it and my daughter grew up with it. It’s a shame.”

Jeremy Lillico says he's going to miss the family's regular visits to the DVD store with his daughter to pick a movie.

Jeremy Lillico says he’s going to miss the family’s regular visits to the DVD store with his daughter to pick a movie.
Photo: RNZ / Rachel Graham

Eilish Bamber-Sawyer said she too had fond memories of coming to the DVD store with her friends when she was younger, but admitted she hadn’t been in a while.

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She was at the store shopping for old school horror movies and said the DVD store has a better selection than most streaming services.

“Some of the older movies are definitely harder to find on streaming services, especially when it comes to horror. I know there is a horror streaming service out there called Shutter. don’t subscribe to this but maybe I should do it now … may my DVD stores close and I can no longer have my beautiful horrors. “

At the end of last year, three other United Video stores canceled its closure, including the Whangamatā store.

Shelley Hughes had run the Whangamatā store for eight years, but said Covid-19 put them over the edge as well.

“Everyone has learned to use the Internet if they haven’t already. And the reason we decided to stop it was that we didn’t release the new releases like we normally would every month, just because there was no one overseas. is making them right now, so part of the industry is dead. “

United Video still has stores in Timaru, Te Puke, Invercargill, Morrinsville and Whangārei, and Christchurch still has a DVD rental store, Alice in Videoland, which focuses on arthouse films.

Whangārei United Video owner Tania Couper said she gets eight or nine new movies a week, but only gets two or three a month.

She said it turned a lot of their regular users off.

Couper said she knew, however, that they were providing an important service to some people in her community.

“We have a lot of people who live here, who cannot afford, and who cannot afford to access the Internet, who do not have this service at home. So they come looking for a whole pile of movies for their family for the week. . We’re more of a public service than a business these days, ”she laughs.

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Couper said that while the future was uncertain, she valued the business and knew her customers, too. She hoped they would continue to operate for at least months, and maybe even next year.

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