Online piracy leads to Civic Video closure

Closing up: Civic Video on Hamilton’s Ulster St will sell off its more than 20,000 video and game titles after the shop shuts this weekend.
Closing up: Civic Video on Hamilton’s Ulster St will sell off its more than 20,000 video and game titles after the shop shuts this weekend.

A failed Hamilton video rental shop is pleading a case of internet killed the video store.

Civic Video on Ulster St is shutting up on Sunday, with owner Herms Brascamp saying internet piracy has delivered the final blow to a store that has been struggling for years.

The Rotorua-based man and his wife Menke have been running the Ulster St store since 2000, and Mr Brascamp said in that time the business had never turned a profit.

"The reason we're closing is the turnover we have - the money that comes in - is not enough to pay the bills," he said.

"We've not earned any money out of that shop, not a single cent. It's always been a struggle to keep it going and while we've had the shop we've got into debt.

"There's no point in carrying on and get into debt further - it kills your health and your marriage and all sorts of things."

At one stage, the Brascamps operated five Civic Video outlets across the central North Island - in Cambridge, Whakatane, Taupo and Rotorua, as well as the Hamilton store.

When the Ulster St store closes, only the Rotorua shop will remain.

The shop will officially stop rentingon Sunday. Then the owners will put its 20,000-plus film and game titles in the store up for sale at the site from January 13 to January 31.

The shop's two fulltime staff and three part-time employees were notified about the closure last week.

Civic Video Rototuna is the sole survivor of the franchise in the city.

Mr Brascamp said the decline had become steeper and steeper in recent years, with revenue down 30 per cent in December when compared to last year.

And while internet piracy was the biggest issue, Mr Brascamp said the store's demise came down to a combination of factors.

"Young people these days, they have so many other things to involve themselves with - Facebook and Twitter," he said. "They used to be our top customers but now you don't see them as often."

The closure of insolvent video stores and retail businesses in New Zealand was an ongoing issue, he said.

"If I close, it's a good thing for our neighbours - their work will pick up temporarily - but the decline in the industry is ongoing and there are a lot of people in same boat as us."

Hamilton-headquartered United Video operates 90 stores across the country, but has closed seven over the last 12 months.

Managing director Lindsay Hall said online piracy was the biggest challenge facing the video business today. "And the industry is suffering because of it, with hundreds of employees - most of them young people - out of work as stores close," he said.

"Piracy needs to be stopped as we cannot compete with free product. Illegal downloading is hurting legitimate businesses all over the country."

Despite the closures, Mr Hall said he still believed his business is faring better than its competitors.

"We do not have a lot of smaller stores who are hit hard when there is a reduction in income," he said.

Waikato Times