I’ve written before about the legend of Video Ezy, and much has been written since about its downfall. Gather ’round, kids, and I’ll tell you a tale.
It should come as no surprise to anyone that the days of the video shop are long over, with so many titans of the industry falling in recent times.
As recently as 1996, today’s home entertainment climate seemed unthinkable – an era in which an unlimited well of entertainment options is available in one’s own home. Sure, occasionally you’ll spy a lone DVD kiosk, now the pillar of the industry (an industry…), standing unloved in a shopping centre somewhere, but I’m willing to bet very few of you have ever used one.
So neglected by society is the concept of renting entertainment that few, if any, memorial sites exist today for what was once such an everyday part of life. That libraries survived the format war – and continue to thrive today – speaks volumes about how far from grace the video shop has fallen.
But here, in this dark, menacing alleyway in Narwee, the legacy lives on.
Look up and you’ll see a typical example of the de-ezyfication process. Even before the graffiti artists got to it, a more professional job had been done on the “Ezy” part, presumably as some off-brand video shop took up Video Ezy’s old space in those dark later years.
Around the front, you’d never know any of that. Four separate, entirely uninteresting businesses now occupy the huge floorspace you know Video Ezy would have filled effortlessly. If there’s one thing vendors of unwieldy tape-to-tape spools contained in cumbersome plastic cases did well, it’s take up real estate.
On the west side, our quarry is left relatively untouched, and we can see that the building once housed a supermarket as well.
Just for a moment, take yourself back to one of those Friday nights, when someone couldn’t be bothered cooking and there was nothing on TV. You’d head down to the video shop, where part of the fun were the hours it took just to decide on one title (and with the prices as they were, who could blame you?). You’d grab some popcorn because you’ve been conditioned as a corny traditionalist. You’d hit up the supermarket for a bucket of exotic ice cream (which for some meant a Viennetta). And then you’d head home via the nearest fast food joint and ring in the weekend with the biggest Hollywood stars of the day.
That’s right, you didn’t ask for much out of life.
On the back wall, however, an urban Rembrandt tells another story…
..one of community, harmony, and happy weekends full of leftover Viennetta, when you got it the first time or got it free.
Great choice of subject. Spent many a Friday night you speak of in the car with mum heading down to this very shop. Usually mum was the one choosing for herself, I rarely hired one for myself too, but took great delight in browsing. A sneaky look through the horror section at plastic cases which hadn’t been touched for years, maybe a quick passing glance at the adult section in the back corner.
I remember a step down into another part of the shop – no doubt a sign that their inventory took up so much floor space that they opened it up into another building next door.
This was one of the earlier Video Ezy franchises, the head office being up the road in Hurstville. The owner had a falling out in the mid nineties and dropped out of the franchise, he just painted over the ‘Ezy’ bit and was done with the rebrand.
Video rentals probably reached a peak in 1990 or 1991 and then steadily declined, DVDs didn’t seem to halt the decline much. This was a fairly big and popular store in its hey-day considering the size of the suburb.
This is one of those times when the truth is much more interesting than fiction. What was the falling out about?
From memory I think it was about the Video Ezy promotion whereby they supposedly had so many copies of the latest new release that if one couldn’t rent it on the first occasion, it would be free the next time. (See it first time or see it free). There ended up being almost an entire wall of the one video, and it was a loss maker. Nothing more exciting than that I’m afraid.
I remember hiring our first VHS here after we got a player in 1985/6. It was originally called “Ress Video” or “Rees Video” and I seem to remember it starting off as a small shop in Penshurst Rd opposite the Caltex before moving to Fisher Pl and then expanding…as G mentioned. Also…the back lane was used in a scene for “Idiot Box” (1996). Ben Mendelsohn’s character cases out the Wespac Bank across the road before robbing it.
Kapaha – speaking of Idiot Box being filmed there … I grew up in Narwee, and all of the actors’ caravans were parked near the high school in Chamberlain Street. I walked past them on my way to the station one morning, and Ben Mendelsohn and Jeremy Sims followed me, trying to chat me up. That afternoon, I came from work early to watch them film that scene at the bank for Idiot Box. It was a scene with the lady who later yelled “Not happy, Jan” who now stars in A Place To Call Home (ironically, which is filmed all around where I live NOW, out near Camden).
Are you Mad? you could have married Ben Mendelsohn? & saved heaps of money renting out crappy VHS movies – from Video Ezy, What were you thinking girl? 🙂
The Blockbuster store in Northbridge hung on till a few months ago. I bought a DVD of Meryl Streep in ‘Doubt’ in its closing down sale. The one in Mona Vale is still going even now.
And the fast food shop you’d go to was most likely Tony’s Colossal Pizza.
I remember Video Ezy at Rockdale. With my cousins on a Friday or Saturday night if we had no plans we would order pizza from Dominos and go into video ezy and rent a couple of dvds and pick up pizzas and have dvd’s night. Their was another video store underneath were fitness first is years ago. One of my girlfriends had a huge crush on a guy called Peter that worked there and she would nag me to go with her there after school just so she could talk to him. We did that for a year before he asked her out-what a pain in the neck she was but she ended up getting what she wanted.
Ha ha good old Narwee Video Ezy. This place holds a lot of memories for me and probably helped to indirectly annoy a lot of you guys. That back lane was the first place i came into contact with people painting graffiti and it got me hooked,.
Mum worked at the school backing onto this lane and i would go their after i finished school and watch the guys paint the wall. I was probably in year 6 when i first started doing it and it was my first step into that world.
I wont drop any more information here but to say that I cant believe that Isue rooftop is still up after all these years. And even though i respect Mistery I always was disappointed that the owners obviously didn’t want it to be a graff wall so got him to paint this mural.
As for the shop itself it was massive back in the day and i use to regularly rent megadrive then playstation games there. I remember knowing to go here when Jurassic Park first came out because they would always have the most new releases.
As for Idiot Box… Wow i totally forgot about that. Ha ha. I think the actual Bank got done in real life at least once if i squeeze my memory as well. There was also a murder outside of the all night Lebanese restaurant down the lane a few years ago and does anyone remember Pauls Hamburgers on the main strip? He was there for years.
PS I have told a few of my old mates from the graff scene to check out this site and they all love it. It appeals to my many memories of places i would roam around exploring back as a kid.
That graffiti piece looks like it was done by Mistery