End of the reel for Van Isle Video

NANAIMO – One of Island's largest and last video rental stores set to close in February.

Movie buffs hankering for offbeat foreign films or British TV series will soon have one less source to turn to.

Van Isle Video, which since 1985 has carried one of the Island’s last and largest video inventories, will draw the curtain on show business for good in February.

Over the past 30 years the store has seen format changes from VHS and Beta to DVD and Blue-ray carries between 12,000 and 14,000 videos, but owner Richard Perks, now 75, wants to retire and is selling the store’s entire stock and fixtures.

“There’s not enough money in it now to hire staff and I don’t want to work as long as I’m working,” Perks said.

Overall the video rental business has been in decline, Perks said, since major video rental chains, such as Rogers Video and Blockbuster Video ceased operations in 2012 and 2013. Both chains focused on new releases and never carried the library of titles as Van Isle Video, but their presence helped buoy the video rental market.

“They had a different business model from us too,” Perks said. “They worked mainly on new releases where we worked on keeping a catalogue of videos to look after the people. At that time it was a very good model we had with them doing what they did because where would they send people?”

The death knell for the video rental business, though, has been online and cable providers, such as Netflix, which offer similar content to Van Isle Video, and the popularity of PVR technology with viewers age 50 to 70 who now simply record older productions for later viewing with no rental fees.

“We did phenomenal on TV series until they learnt how to PVR … so you could say technology has certainly taken over,” Perks said.

When Perks closes his doors in February – he hasn’t specified an exact closing date – Niko Video, an automated DVD vending outlet in Harewood, and Film Buff Video in South Parkway Plaza will be Nanaimo’s only remaining dedicated video rental outlets.