End of an era nearing with Video Ezy closing
THE end of the movie-rental store era appears to be unfolding with the closure of one of Ipswich's oldest video libraries.
One of the last of Video Ezy's retail stores - on Brisbane St - will soon shut its doors for good, after a 27-year run in business.
Manager Marian Burns who has worked at Video Ezy for 22 years, said she had shed tears at the prospect of closing.
"It's sad," she said. "I've been working at the store for so long that I still can't believe it's coming to an end.
"I've noticed a drop in business in the past year though, with more customers opting to instead use video rental kiosks or downloading movies from the internet."
Ms Burns said the closure of Video Ezy Ipswich had followed other Video Ezy store closures in Redbank and Karalee.
"It's a shame because we have a lot of Video Ezy members who still prefer to stroll through the aisles looking for that perfect film," she said.
"Plus they also lose that ability to pick movie knowledge out of someone's head, whether it be a staff member or fellow customer."
But not all video stores in Ipswich are dead yet.
Network Video in Booval owner and operator Tina Gianotti said her store was still trading well with no plans to close in the future.
"We've been in business for almost 29 years and have built up a lot of loyal customers in that time," she said.
"Of course we're always competing with people downloading movies and using kiosks but people have been predicting the death of rental for years and we're still going strong.
"I think when you operate the store as well as owning it you become a lot more personally invested in it - rather than just owning the business."
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Managing director of Franchise Entertainment Group, which owns Video Ezy and Blockbuster, Paul Uniacke said there would always be a place for video shops, just not as many as there have been.
Mr Uniacke said the traditional rental experience was changing toward self-service with the arrival of more and more video kiosks.
He said about 560 automated Video Ezy and Blockbuster rental kiosks had been installed across Australia in the past two years, with plenty more on the way.
"We've ordered a further 3000 kiosks from the US which should be rolled out across Australia within the next three years," he said.
"With saying that there are still a lot of video stores out there that are still very profitable and will continue to be for years to come."
Mr Uniacke said the main advantages of kiosks were that they reduced the cost of business and were more accessible to the public.
"For example, we haven't had a store in Sydney's CBD because the rent per square metre is too expensive," he said.
"But with these smaller kiosks suddenly people can go somewhere to rent movies in the city ... we have about 40 in Sydney's CBD now."
He said the franchisee of the Ipswich Video Ezy had invested in 50 kiosks across south-east Queensland.
"The only disadvantage is that the kiosks aren't able to offer as much of a selection as stores can - only stocking new releases," he said.
"In the US last year more than a billion rentals came from kiosks.
"My outlook is that these will be some of the most buoyant times in the industry, in a business that has been thriving for many years."