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Stourbridge DVD store boss is the last man standing
6:00pm Wednesday 30th January 2013 in News
A STOURBRIDGE DVD rental store boss has virtually become the last man standing after the collapse of nationwide chains Blockbuster and HMV.
Graham Lench, who runs GCL Video in Clifton Street in the Old Quarter, has been in the movie rental business for nearly 30 years and he has no plans to quit yet - despite the sudden demise of the last remaining dedicated High Street stores that sell and rent films.
There may be a growing number of film fans turning more to the likes of Love Film, Netflix and digital download sites to rent movies without even budging from their armchair.
But old skool film fanatic Graham believes there's still a market for renting DVDs the old fashioned way.
He said: "A lot of people do download but they still come and get discs to rent.
“I sincerely hope discs will be around for a long time, and not just because it is my livelihood.”
And many of his loyal customers agree with him.
Lisa Brooks, from Stourbridge, says she never downloads movies - and she still enjoys popping out to the shop to select a film.
Likewise film fan Joanne Robb even sometimes drives all the way from her home in Kidderminster just to rent a movie. She said: "Graham's a nice guy and it's cheaper than other places so I'm happy to come here."
Although for years Blockbuster has been his biggest competition - Graham, aged 47, said he "never really wanted Blockbuster to go".
"It's sad. They were quite a presence on the High Street."
Graham opened his first independent video store in Colley Gate in 1984 when he was just 17 and he opened his Stourbridge shop back in 1990 in the middle of the video rental heydays - just a year after Blockbuster launched its first UK store.
He said: "I like films and always wanted a video shop.
"I did a few jobs first but I wanted something warm and I saw a shop for sale in Colley Gate so I took it over when I was a month away from 18. It felt exciting at the time.
"Now I'm one of the last ones left. It makes you feel quite pleased to have survived this long but it makes you think is it my turn somewhere down the line?"
However, for now he intends to keep trading for as long as people are willing to venture outdoors in search of the latest flicks.
Graham, who knows all of his customers by name, said: "I've done it for so long - I just think I'll carry on; it does alright. I'd never go into debt to keep a shop going - it has to pay for itself which it does. As long as it keeps doing that I'll be fine."
His biggest worry, he says, is if the film studios begin releasing movies on pay per view and cable channels before they come out on DVD and Blu-Ray which he also rents out.
He said: “It would make it more awkward for me but at the moment they come out on DVD first which is good and I'm a fair bit cheaper than cable.
"I also stock a lot of old classic films for £1 a week; and I do video conversions to DVD - that's another little service and that's done alright."
He added: “It would be devastating if discs were no longer available. I can't imagine the absence of physical media.
“It doesn't get much simpler than putting the disc in the tray and pressing play and it’s there if the internet is slow or servers are down.
“Downloads and streaming also eliminate the second hand market. Without discs there would be no such thing as swapping with friends or buying cheaper pre-owned discs. You would simply be stuck with how much the internet companies want to charge you.”
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