If you grew up prior to 2000, you’ll likely still remember the buzz of heading to the local video store to hire out a movie.
Decades on and that world looks very different, with the video rental industry having shrunk by 25 per cent each year since 2013, according to IBISWorld.
Now one of the last standing Video Ezy stores in Sydney is preparing to close its doors for the final time.
The 72-year-old store owner Geoffrey Hooper has been running his Mount Druitt business for 26 years, battling on even as thousands of others were forced into closure.
“The number of people that have come in here in the past year and said ‘I didn’t know one of these existed!’” said Hooper.
“One of the guys I know brought his kids here to show them what it was like, where he had his first job. And they said ‘Dad, why do we have to come all the way over here to watch a video?’”
The internet, smartphones and subscription streaming packages such as Netflix have signaled the death knell for the stores and heralded the end of what was once a fruitful business for the people that worked in them.
During the industry’s hey day in the 1990’s, there were more than 2,500 video rental stores running around Australia.
Last year, the last Civic Video store closed in Sydney, while just one Blockbuster is left standing in Perth. Almost every Video Ezy store has been replaced by mobile DVD kiosks.
Even the industry’s governing body the Australian Video Rental Retailers Association (AVRRA) folded in 2016.
Hooper was able to keep his store standing with a few smart business tricks, including diversifying into movie kiosks and an internet cafe.
In a Daily Telegraph interview a little over a year ago, Hooper was still optimistic about the future of the business, despite profits having been on hold for the last decade.
But after a battle with cancer and the death of his wife Dianne, Hooper says this is one battle too many.
Hooper’s business is shifting entirely to eBay movie sales.
“A machine doesn’t talk to you… it just goes beep. People will miss the interaction, but they do use the machines. They like the convenience,” said Hooper.
It hasn’t been all bad. The store’s prime years had staff run off their feet and he’s formed close ties to a loyal community who are waiting to bid farewell.
“Oh, we’ve had fun here. Silly bits and a lot of fun. I’ve just enjoyed the business. I’m no movie fanatic. But the business was interesting because there’s so many people involved,” said Hooper.
Watch the package by Your Money Live reporter Camille Bianchi in the video above.