Script ends for Canterbury United Video store

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United Video's Lynn Arthur and owner Kevin Stewart will be in store until the final curtain comes...
United Video's Lynn Arthur and owner Kevin Stewart will be in store until the final curtain comes down on February 5. Photo Toni Williams
It’s a like a sad ending in a blockbuster movie; it’s unwanted and tears have been shed.

But after months of trying to make it work, the credits are rolling for United Video Ashburton and they are closing the doors.

Owner Kevin Stewart, still coming to terms with the ending, made the decision public late last week.

The following day all product in store was for sale including shelves, gaming consoles (since sold) and hundreds of DVDs and games. Back catalogue DVDs were selling for $5, Blue Ray $6, and box sets of movies $15. Games and new releases vary in price.

And ironically they had been very busy. “It’s crazy, quite frankly,” Kevin said.

The closing down sale will run until February 5 at 8pm when the last video rental store in the district closes for good.

Kevin, who has owned United Video since November 1999 and worked alongside Lynn Arthur in store for nearly 20 years, was reluctantly closing as it was no longer viable.

Many people got used to other ways of watching movies using online streaming sites or television’s on demand platforms over lockdown, he said. And while they came back for a short time, it didn’t last and customers had drifted away.

“We’re very reluctant to let it go,” he said.

Kevin bought the business from brothers Paul and David Taylor.

But it was businessman Alister Lilley who brought United Video to Ashburton more than 35 years ago.

United Video has had four sites since being in town, either on Cass or Tancred streets.

Kevin said with Covid-19 disrupting film production globally and no movies released last year there were limited new release rentals.

The store relied on customers wanting to come in for a chat and to select from the range of mix of releases and real classics in store. They had a varied mix of people, of all ages, who frequented the store.

with their customer base, which included many elderly in for a weekly catchup and others who had rented videos as children and were now bringing their own children to rent movies.

They had seen many families growing up over the years, Lynn said.

It made the past few days especially tough for both Kevin and Lynn as they dealt with the sale of items and looked to their respective futures.

Kevin already works ANZCO security but Lynn was now actively looking for work after 21 years at United Video.

She also worked for two years with the Taylor brothers.

-By Toni Williams

 

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