Covering the Goulburn and Murray valleys

Rental shop's closure a sign of the times

Rochester DVD Hire will close its doors on Sunday.

ELAINE COONEY January 14, 2014 4:23am

Rochester DVD Hire owner Rob Ralph.

Rochester DVD Hire will close its doors on Sunday after 35 years as a movie rental business.

Owner Rob Ralph said he reached the decision to close following poor trade since the January 2011 flood but the final straw came just before to Christmas.

‘‘In the three days leading up to Christmas no one was in here,’’ he said.

‘‘I sat here for 30 hours for nothing.’’

‘‘Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve were always the best nights (for DVD rentals) but this year it (trade) was non-existent.’’

Mr Ralph said he woke up on Boxing Day and realised it was the first time he had a good night’s sleep since the downturn of his business in 2011.

He would spend sleepless nights trying to figure out ways to turn his business around but hit brick walls.

‘‘I don’t want to close. I love what I do but I can’t keep going backwards,’’ he said.

Mr Ralph said his annual electricity bill rose from $330 a quarter to $520 for the same period this year.

He said he did not use any more power this year and the electricity company could not explain the steep rise.

‘‘The high cost of living is crippling small businesses,’’ he said.

Mr Ralph said he was owed $100,000 in unpaid overdue fines for movies.

He said internet downloading, the aging population and the community not supporting local businesses also played role in the decline of his business.

‘‘It’s definitely illegal downloading that killed (the business),’’ he said.

‘‘This is an ageing population. When 70 per cent of people are over 50 and don’t watch (many) movies you only have 30 per cent of the population to rent a movie,’’ he said.

He said although people may have been watching their money after the flood, he believed many Rochester residents preferred to go to the cinema in Echuca rather than rent a movie.

‘‘People are building new houses with a cinema room and they don’t use it,’’ he said.

Mr Ralph started working at the store when he was 17 and bought it eight years ago to build up his retirement nest egg.

‘‘At the time I thought it was a good business,’’ he said.

‘‘As soon as the flood hit it disappeared overnight.’’

‘‘It’s sad but I can see more businesses in town will close soon.’’

He said since he announced the closure of his shop he had been busy.

‘‘I’ve taken more money in the last two weeks than I have in the last three months,’’ he said.

Mr Ralph said he did not have any immediate plans following the businesses closure on Sunday but was looking forward to a day off.

He said he only took 13 days off in eight years — and eight of those were Christmas Days.

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