29 May 2019

Roll the credits: Canberra's last video rental store to shut its doors

| Lachlan Roberts
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Josh Mudford has owned Network Video Charnwood for the past eight years. Photos: Daniella Jukic, we are found.

Gone are the Friday nights trawling the aisles of videos looking for a film to watch, as Canberra’s last DVD rental store closes its doors this Friday (31 May).

Network Video Charnwood, operating under different store names and owners since the mid-1980s, has been a stalwart in the video rental business but it has finally succumbed to the rise of Netflix and online streaming.

Surrounded by 26,000 discs, Network Video Charnwood has been Josh Mudford’s home since he bought the store eight years ago. Since then, he has worked seven days a week at the store, with his sister occasionally helping out when he needed an extra hand.

Mudford has 2500 active store members, but he had seen a steady decline of people renting films due to the prominence of online streaming.

“I have always liked movies and to be completely honest, if I hadn’t bought this store eight years ago it would have closed eight years ago,” he said.

“Our lease is coming to an end and the way I see things are heading doesn’t give me enough confidence to sign on to a new lease due to people streaming, using digital options or buying physical media these days.

“This store has been a big part of my life for the past decade so it is unfortunate that our time has come to an end.”

Despite the shelves groaning under the weight of classics like Dr Strangelove, Gone with the Wind, It’s a Wonderful Life, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Graduate, Taxi Driver and Pulp Fiction, new films fresh out of the cinema are still the ones making the most popular rentals list.

“We only had one Titanic in the store last year but now we have three because last year we had an influx of people wanting to borrow it. There were a couple of parents coming who wanted to show the movie to their children,” Josh said with a smile.

“Personally, my go-to movie is V for Vendetta.”

The store will continue to rent out movies until Friday, and to thank his loyal members for their continued support over the past decade, Mudford is hosting a farewell free sausage sizzle on Saturday afternoon, where he will also put up for sale all the DVDs he has collected.

Like being unable to say goodbye to his children, there were some movies in the store that he had to keep for himself – a variety of classic Alfred Hitchcock films from the 1960s are stashed away out back. But even a movie first released in 1916 is in need of a new home.

“There is strong community support for the store in Charnwood and we have had 100 regulars coming in every week,” he said. “They have allowed us to stay open for as long as we have. It was sad saying goodbye to quite a few people. But all good things have to come to an end.”

So what are his plans for the future?

“After Saturday, I’ll sit down and have a think about it. Maybe I will take a break for a little while because that is what everyone is telling me to do. I’ll move onto something new,” Josh said.

Network Video Charnwood is located at 23 Charnwood Place, Shop 7. Visit their Facebook page for more information.

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