Story & photo Eve Jeffery
After 30 years, four owners and five premises, Late Nite Video is closing.
Lel Sebastian has been the owner of the business, which is now in the Woolies Plaza, since 2011 after working for the previous owners for 13 years.
‘When Rudi and Christine Rudiger decided they wanted to retire, I decided the Shire couldn’t lose the store and took it over.’
‘We have one of the best, if not the best, collections of DVDs in Australia’, current owner Lel Sebastian told The Echo. ‘Baz Luhrmann said we’re the best!
‘We have all genres; particularly strong are our directors, foreign, classics, Australian and music sections.
‘Plenty of folk from out of town… Melbourne, Sydney… tell us they’ve never seen a video store like it – not to mention our appreciative locals.’
Lel says it is the number of people hiring has decreasing and the rise of online streaming alternatives, piracy and the internet which has seen a decline in business.
‘These factors are combined with unsustainable overheads.
‘Rent is a biggie. My landlord, in the end, proved unsupportive of local business and insisted on raising the rent.’
Lel feels that the internet takes the heart out of the movie experience.
Business decline, high rent a factor
‘It doesn’t offer a hell a lot of choice for people who really care about exploring movies’, she says. ‘It can’t replace the personal element that our video store offers. This is one of the very enjoyable things about Late Nite – talking about films, making recommendations, getting feedback from customers about films. Late Nite has become a sort of mini community centre. Many of our members are not just our members – they’ve become our friends, too.’
Last day Aug 31
As to the future, Lel hopes to sell as many of the 30,000 DVDs from the collection.
‘The last day of trade is August 31. All the DVDs are for sale, but we are still renting movies all month and getting in new releases.’
After that? ‘A month’s holiday with my son’, says Lel. ‘Then, all things going well, some English language teaching work – and more time for writing poetry’.