Gone are the days when on weekends, people wanted to have a nice quiet evening with a good movie.
This always included the mandatory drive to the local video store and the activity of snooping around between the big shelves filled with the newest flicks and the oldest films, wondering which one finally to pick for a movie night.
It’s all gone because of our modern age with streaming services like Netflix or Amazon Prime Video, who are stirring up the movie industry since the last couple of years, isn’t it? In the case of Samoa’s film fanatics, the answer is not that easy.
It seems like a quiet day at Chillax DVD Store in Lotopa, where one DVD is neatly lined up next to the other, from the latest action film with Dwayne Johnson to the newest antics of Melissa McCarthy.
“Most of our customers are coming in during the evening or on the weekends,” a representative of the store explains. Even though most of Samoa’s video stores have closed during the last years, business seems to go well at the store in Lotopa, which is one of the last of its kind.
“Our store has been opened for more than five years. During that time, we did not really notice a decline in sales. I would describe them as steady.”
In fact, the small store has pretty much benefited from the demise of its competitors: “We still have new customers visiting our store from time to time and I think that has to do with the fact that most of the other video stores closed down during the last years. But of course, we also have our steady customers, who know exactly about the release dates of new movies”.
As for an explanation for the decrease of movie stores in Samoa, the representative of Chillax DVD Store does not blame new technology like online streaming services, but rather bad marketing strategies.
“When leading a business, you should know how to manage it by keeping up with your sales and certain ways of attracting people.
I think the reason why most of these stores closed down is because […] their rates might have been too expensive, not really because of the online offers you have nowadays.
I’d say that all these ways to enjoy movies online are not really affecting our business, because people want to have the best high definition quality. Also, most of the popular legal streaming services are not available here and internet connections are just too expensive to download movies.”
According to the spokesperson of Chillax DVD Store, this is especially the case with movies coming from the Philippines, which enjoy great popularity among Samoa’s movie fans.
“[These movies] come with so many megabytes that it is simply too expensive to watch them online. After those movies have been shown in TV, our sales just jump up”.
Speaking of a preferable quality of movies, it is also the topicality that still attracts customers to visit one of the last video stores in Samoa.
“As soon as the movies are no longer screened in the cinema and are censored properly, we are allowed to rent them in our store.”
The store in Lotopa was able to preserve its customer base due to clever offerings.
“We always offer specials which really attract people to come, for instance when you rent three [movies], the next one is for free”.
The question about the disappearance of most movie stores in Samoa might not only be answered with the explanation of bad management, but also with the rampant problem of pirate copies that is affecting the industry since years.
But if the excitement for a great movie is there, it is up to each and every person to decide whether it is worth the money to ensure that those experiences will continue – and should therefore be supported by the act of renting or actually buying a movie in a legal way – or not.