North Wales’ ‘retro’ DVD rental shop still going strong in the age of Netflix and Youtube

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In an age when we have millions of movies and TV shows at our fingertips, it seems strange to think back to the day when you physically had to leave your house to rent a movie for the night. To do such a thing these days is surely unheard of – isn’t it?

This may not be the case if you live on the Llyn Peninsula. Video Llyn in Pwllheli was established as a VHS rental store in 1983 and despite the evolution of television with Netflix, Prime TV and Disney+, the store is still going strong.

Although they have changed locations a few times, the business has certainly not lost its appeal. At one time there were also Video Llyn stores in Caernarfon and Porthmadog, as well as the Pwllheli base.

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Although it’s just the Pwllheli store in action, owner Ian Jones says that even after nearly 40 years in business, there’s no danger he’ll slow things down just yet. You can see photos of Video Llyn over the decades here.

He said: “When we started we used to have vans delivering rentals – from Holyhead all the way to Machynlleth. We flooded the market geographically.

“Now our lifeline is tourism. As most of the businesses in the region are, we too are largely seasonal. We have our regulars, which is very important, but we are more occupied when there is an influx of people in the area.

“A lot of tourists come from the more affluent areas. We are very lucky here in Pwllheli compared to some places due to high end tourism. Pen Llyn as an area is quite unique.

“Although we’re not booming, there’s no danger of us closing. I think it’s a bit of a nostalgic trip for a lot of people, they like to reminisce.

Do you have fond memories of going to a store to rent a movie, or is it still part of your weekend routine? Let us know in the comments section below.

“We tend to sell more than we rent these days, but I think we have that niche. Obviously the weekend tends to be our busiest time, but there seems to be a phenomenon weird where everyone seems to think the more hours you put in the more money you make, but you don’t need to be open every day to be profitable.

“It’s a tragedy that some young people will never experience as it was, where it was actually quite exciting on a Friday night to go out and rent a movie. When we started it was VHS tapes, then it there was this transition to DVD.

“I knew there was a chance they would become valuable one day, but I just got rid of them. You never know though because things tend to come back into style.

“People don’t always like change and you see it now with some people going back to analogue instead of digital or using record players again. It’s the same with cameras, not everyone wants to take a picture with their phone.

“I’ve seen some people using really old-fashioned cameras lately. People like the idea of ​​being retro.”

Just before the pandemic took hold, Mr Jones also started a games workshop, which seemed to thrive at a time when people were off work and had nothing to do but wait for the Covid storm passes.

He added: “It’s all about diversity, we don’t just offer one thing. And we had no choice but to think outside the box during Covid because we, like everyone else, had to close for 12 months.

“And because cinemas were closed, there were no new releases. Fortunately, everything is back to normal now.”

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