Sydney’s last DVD rental shop disappears


Sydney’s last well-known DVD rental shop is closing, marking the end of an era.

Have you ever dreamed of those blessed pre-Limeware, pre-Pirate Bay, pre-Netflix days when mom or dad would take you by the hand and go to the local Video Ezy? It’s an Arvo Friday in the summer and the heat wraps you in a warm blanket. Traffic lights turn off lazily. You go to your favorite section in the store and choose a title. You grab a packet of Smiths crisps while you’re at it. Or maybe the attendant Chloe (you’re on a first name basis) recommends something.

Well, that memory is about to get even more rosy-tinged. Capitalism works forever.

An Ezy video in Hobart, Tasmania. Image courtesy: Wikipedia Commons.

Darlinghurst Film Club, believed to be Sydney’s newest DVD rental shop, closed over the weekend. There used to be an association that tracked all issues related to video stores – the Australian Video Rental Retailers Association – but it folded in 2016.

The Film Club had tens of thousands of members in its book at the time of closing and a smaller dedicated base of repeat customers.

The DVD rental industry has long been close to extinction. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in the financial year 1999-2000 there were 1166 individual video rental companies operating in Australia and 1615 outlets in total. In 2013, a report by IBISWorld revealed that there were only 255 DVD rental businesses still in operation in Australia, a drop of almost 80%!

Film Club was able to last so long in the era of Netflix because it offered a diverse range of niche films, many of which were not available on streaming platforms. These included: queer cinema, art house films, foreign language films and more.

Film Club Sydney, last DVD store
Credit: Cine Club/Manon Keus

Obviously, some movie connoisseurs never tire of putting a physical CD in a DVD player, just as many avid readers prefer physical copies of books, newspapers and magazines in this increasingly digital world of online media. and Kindles.

As owner Ben Kenny told the Sydney Morning Heraldit was about the serendipity of discovery and finding something you didn’t know you were looking for.”

On Saturday, Kenny gave away most of his remaining stock for free. Some patrons offered farewell donations.

“More than anything, it felt like the time had come“, says Kenny.”I never wanted the store to rely on empty nostalgia or people coming just out of obligation. I’ve always wanted it to be a living, breathing, working business. I wanted to get out before it got a little sad and desperate.”

Farewell, film club.


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