Red-zone woes hit popular central city video collection

16:00, Mar 17 2011
Alice in Videoland
FUTURE IN DOUBT: Alice in Videoland at the intersection of High and Tuam streets is still standing, but there are fears that Christchurch's red-zone restrictions could kill the business.

Christchurch's popular video store Alice in Videoland could be lost if the red-zone cordon is not lifted within two months.

The store's High St premises are relatively undamaged. However, the site is one block inside the red zone.

Store founder Paul Stewart fears his business will not be able to hold out for more than two months.

He wants to retrieve his collection of 21,000 DVDs so he can restart his online business or relocate.

Red-zone restrictions mean he cannot get into the store for long enough – and with enough helpers – to retrieve the collection.

"We may have to dismantle Alice's if we do not get into the red zone," he said.

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"I hope the cordon will move back a bit very soon.

"I would be absolutely gutted to think that Christchurch would lose Alice's, but the default position might be that it does. We are desperate to get in and get trading.

"It is all about getting in there and getting the stock out.

"If it is more than six months, Alice's could be a basket case."

The store's DVD collection grows by about 80 new DVDs a month. It is one of a handful of video stores in the world with such a comprehensive collection.

Stewart said he had resisted offers for the collection from online DVD rental business Fatso.

"I am desperate to keep that collection together," he said.

"I am resisting offers to pick the eyes out of the collection because the collection has taken 26 years to be put together and it will not be pulled apart."

John Burns, who has worked at the store for 18 years, said the future was uncertain.

"We can't do anything while the cordon for the red zone is up," he said. "Then there is the question of whether people will come back into town when they are allowed to."

Burns said a long closure could be fatal for the specialist store.

The eight staff are being paid through the government income support package, which runs out in less than three weeks.

"I don't think we will survive in the CBD. I think it has to relocate," he said.

Alice's archive maven Nick Paris, who has worked at the store for 12 years, said "it would be criminal to see it [the collection] lost to Christchurch".

"My feeling is it really has to continue in some form," Paris said.

"We can't just brush 25 years under the carpet."

The trio plan to meet in the next week to decide the video store's future.

The Press