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Video stores feeling the digital pressure as young go for “free stuff”

Sep 26th, 2014 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News, News

Aro Video store owner Andrew Armitage

PROUD OWNER: Aro Video store owner Andrew Armitage is proud with what his independent video store has achieved despite a declining industry.

LOCAL video rental stores are feeling the pressure of the digital world with online streaming, movie rental, and film piracy.

“I’m one of the walking wounded but I’m not alone. There are thousands of us that have been hit by this evolution,” Aro Video owner Andrew Armitage says.

Aro Video is known for its wide selection of independent films and titles not available on DVD.

However, Mr Armitage says the piracy “craze” has destabilized everything.

“The hearts and minds of young people are won over by free stuff,” he says.

An anonymous video store patron confirms his point.

“I only go to video stores to look at titles to download later,” she says.

Andrew Armitage says although he enjoys all the benefits digital brings to business, it becomes mentally challenging to keep faith in what he’s doing.

“You just try to hold your ground and the ground gets quite shakey at times.”

Loyal customer of 15 years, Vivian Rodriquez, sees the relationship she has built with Aro Video as one of its most important features.

“I like that it’s not a big shop like the other ones,” she says,

“I believe in supporting local.”

Mr Armitage says 70% of his business comes from customers walking through the door.

“Most of our customers are my age or older, and they will always do things the old fashioned way. Whether we can be here to keep nurturing that habit, I don’t know.”

Mr Armitage says the wholesale and distribution infrastructure suffers as video stores close, with the transition from hardcopy dollars to digital pennies.

“Sure with digital you can reach masses kind of all at once but they’re all paying 2 cents”.

He says it’s a legitimate model, but New Zealand is in a bit of limbo with digital taking off.

“We don’t have proper broadband and people are generally not in the habit of watching films on their computers,” he says.

Having just celebrated its 25th anniversary this month Aro Video has become a household name in Wellington.

“I didn’t start a business for the sake of starting a business. If I’d done that I would have done something much more lucrative,” he jokes.

“Really I managed to combine a hobby and my vocation together and that’s luckier than most.”

Kelburn Video has been in business for over 10 years but Manager Soty Pheng says the industry is dying and will come to an end.

He says this is because New Zealanders lifestyles have changed.

“On a rainy day, people would go to the video store. Now Kiwi’s are too lazy to get off the couch,” he says.

The decline is not just limited to movies and television shows, but also to video games.

Mr Pheng says the constant change in technology means it is too expensive to keep up with the latest video game consoles.

The store has tried reducing prices and late fees but it has not made much difference.

He says unless the government steps in to ban online streaming and stop film piracy, there’s nothing store owners can do to stop the inevitable.

The music industry has also had its share of troubles, but Slow Boat Records is one of the few remaining music stores in Wellington.

Assistant Manager Jeremy Taylor says they have seen a slight drop in the sales of DVD’s, but popular Television Series and classic movies still sell.

He says this is proof that people still like to own a physical object of quality that can be viewed repeatedly.

Mr Taylor is optimistic that physical music stores will continue to exist.

“People will always gravitate to the music store as a place where good music is found.

“The memorable instores [artists] we have hosted serve as a reminder of the magic and power of people coming together to bond over music,” he says.

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