Australia’s oldest video store shuts its doors
THE Gold Coast will lose a piece of retro history when one of Australia's oldest video stores shuts up shop after 35 years of trade.
The Blockbuster store at Palm Beach is one of the Coast's last standing DVD rental shops and will sell off more than 10,000 titles as it prepares to close its doors forever.
In a time when VHS and Betamax ruled, a then 20-year-old Patrick Smith bought the Palm Beach Blockbuster store in 1983 - his first of 18 video outlets.
And it will be the last store he closes.
"I was riding the wave in the early days," he said.
"Video shops generated so much money. They were creating around 50 per cent of film studios' income and they created a resurgence for the film industry in the '80s.
"They were initially treated as a fad like yoyos but in fact they became very profitable.
"I have had the store most of my life. I've seen a lot of changes."
With the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Stan there are now "less than 20" brick-and-mortar Blockbuster video rental stores across the country, surviving mostly in small regional towns.
In 2001 there were 2600 video stores nationally but after the Australian Video Rental Retailers Association (AVRRA) folded in 2016, the number is believed to be less than 750 nationwide.
On the Gold Coast, Blockbuster at Runaway Bay and Leading Edge Video at Currumbin Waters remain the only two video rental stores left where there was once several in every suburb.
The remaining stores survive by catering to two core demographics - older people who don't use the internet and movie buffs looking for eclectic titles.
"We were always assured it would be pay TV that would crush us, but even after that we continued to trade successfully," Mr Smith said.
"But it has been the internet and streaming services that have been the final nail in the coffin.
"People are a click away from whatever movie they want and you just can't compete with that convenience."
While DVD rental kiosks remain in local shopping centres, gone are the days of wandering the aisles searching for the perfect Saturday night flick.
"People really enjoyed walking around, physically picking up the discs, spending time making their choices. It was a real social, community hub," he said.
"We knew customers' names. Everyone turned up at peak hour. If you were a uni kid it was the ultimate job to get."
Having owned the store for almost four decades, Mr Smith said one particular rental was considered the most popular of all time - and that would be Titanic.
"It just so happened Titanic was a major blockbuster and it also came out at the height of video stores' popularity too, which explains why it was rented so often," he said.
"Kids these days will miss out on that experience and while it's sad, we always knew it was coming. It hasn't been a great mystery that this would happen.
"I started closing stores around five years ago and ironically the first store I owned will be the last one I close.
"It will be a poignant finish to a very long and successful run."
Sue Brown has owned Leading Edge Video at Currumbin with her husband Pete since 1999 and said they had tried selling other locally made products in the past five years to stay afloat.
"It's a struggle," she said.
"We have been selling bagged sweets for $1, a china mug range, candles made locally, a range of children's books by local authors, New Zealand ice-creams, cheap cans of drink and things like that.
"We are just a mum and dad store but we have a good, loyal customer base.
"It's a shame (there are so few stores left) because it's a happy business - people come in to find something to relax with and it has such positivity.
"We have a few more ideas for the coming years to stay open."
Blockbuster Palm Beach will begin selling all of its 10,000-plus DVDS from tomorrow.