Tweed Heads' last video store lives on
BLOCKBUSTER Video may be no longer, but the death knell for DVD rentals in the Tweed isn't being sounded just yet.
With Pottsville's DVD store preparing to shut and the only other remaining DVD store in the Tweed believed to be the Network outlet at Murwillumbah, the former Blockbuster store at Tweed Heads is preparing to rebrand to Tweed DVD - and business owner Helen* says, after 30 years, the shop is not going the way of the VHS any time soon.
"This has been a very good business," Helen said.
"The internet has affected us like it has most businesses, but we're still going strong."
In fact, Tweed DVD not only remains the last local bastion for the in-store rental, but it quite possibly is one of the most popular DVD stores in Australia.
Far from withering away into obsolescence, the store's queues are growing.
"We're still employing people, and we're still getting a queue out the front of our store on a Tuesday morning," Helen said.
"Our supplier has told us we're their busiest store, and we're probably the only store in Australia still getting a queue."
Though Tweed's enduring enthusiasm for the DVD seems quite random, Helen rationalises that it's the niche demographic of the local area that ensures a DVD store remains essential, despite the existential threat of content streaming behemoths like Netflix and Stan that have seen the wider industry collapse.
"To me, there's been a slow decline, but for us it's been slower than other stores," she said.
And while it might be nice to say that it's a collective nostalgia keeping her store open, Helen has a much simpler theory.
"Cost," Helen said. "Cost is the thing that's keeping us here."
After all the advances in the availability and immediacy of content to our screens, DVD stores still remain the quickest and cheapest place to watch new release movies.
It's on 'cheap Tuesdays' at Tweed DVD - with $2 new releases and $1 weeklies - when local cinephiles are lining the streets.
And on Sundays, anyone up for a binge is well catered for with all TV-series' available at half price (you can watch a new release series for just $3.50 if you inhale every episode in one night).
It's a fraction of the cost of what you'd pay to buy it off the tellie or iTunes.
But ultimately, having outlived other local stores such as Tweed Video Ezy and Network in Banora Point, in a market that has shrunk from 2600 stores in 2001 to just 700 in 2018, Helen knows the odds are stacked against the business's long-term viability.
"There are forces outside our control that will make it harder and harder," Helen said, acknowledging the increasing power and market share of streaming platforms, which could be growing too big to fail. (Netflix is spending $8 billion on original content this year alone.)
Until then, as Helen says, "we'll just have to enjoy it while it lasts".
"Tweed has been fantastic to us, and we are happy to keep being able to provide the service for the community."
* Helen asked for her surname to be withheld for privacy reasons.