Video battle rages but Blockbuster plans to stick around

SERVICE FIRST: Blockbuster manager David Kendall said good staff and customer service helped keep the store’s doors open.
SERVICE FIRST: Blockbuster manager David Kendall said good staff and customer service helped keep the store’s doors open. Renee Pilcher

A STRING of video store closures in Gympie is part of a nation-wide trend but the town's last remaining store, Blockbuster, plans to be around for some time yet.

Blockbuster manager David Kendall has been with the store 18 years, almost nine of which have been as manager.

Mr Kendall said although Gympie's other video stores had folded under the growing strain of operating costs and a change in consumer habits, he believed his store could resist the trend.

Video stores face an uphill battle against high renting costs to maintain a bricks and mortar presence and, crucially, the rapid uptake of technology changing the way movies are consumed.

Movies are now able to be accessed online, both legally and illegally, whereas once the only way to catch the latest blockbuster on the big screen was to pack the car and drive to the local video store.

Mr Kendall said the continuing development of the internet was having an impact.

"Technology has not been our friend," he said.

"In some ways it is the beginning of the end, but we will buck the trend for as long as we can."

But it is not just ease of access online hurting video stores.

The expansion of free-to-air television is also playing a role.

With more variety on television, it is adding fuel to the fire.

Often children let the cat out of the bag in-store, remarking on which movies their parents "already have on the hard drive".

Mr Kendall said Blockbuster didn't have a magic approach to resisting the trend. Rather, the store was focusing on "getting the basics right".

"I think we have the right location, better variety and really good staff," he said.

"The staff have a lot to do with people coming back.

"There is no constant turnover and people get the service they do. It's about continuity of care."

For more than 10 years Blockbuster has run a "Dollar Tuesday" deal and the initiative continues today.

"Tuesday morning, our car park is like Grand Central Station," Mr Kendall said.

Good prices, personal service and an expansive range of movies are Blockbuster's weapons of choice to battle the instant gratification of accessing content online, and it's a battle Mr Kendall is happy to fight.

Gympie Times

Topics:  blockbuster video store

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