Barry Hilton, better known to South Africans for his stand up comedy routines and movie appearances, has a different side to him when it comes to renting DVDs. The comedian is a big fan of the DVD rental model “It’s a very good and cost-effective way to entertain your family and not everyone has DStv and streaming and this and that,” Hilton told TechCentral in an interview.

The traditional video store has found increasing pressure in South Africa from increasing retail space pricing and a combination of available alternatives like DStv’s BoxOffice, Netflix and an increase in piracy proliferated by broadband options like uncapped DSL lines. But even with these avenues of competition he feels that the humble DVD store has a place in South Africa

“Even with Netflix in America, they still have DVD stores. The majority of the population hasn’t got Netflix.”

“People have this impression that DVDs are finished because wherever you go, you see big franchise stores closing down. But the reason these big franchise DVD stores are collapsing at such a rate is they can’t afford to pay their rent, and the franchisees have to pay the franchiser, who is crushing them before they even start.”

Hilton’s version of the DVD store however, is different to what we are used to seeing in South Africa. Instead of relying on rows of shelving with each and every movie’s case on display, his ‘Cousin’s DVD’ stores work with a software platform that allows customers to browse for, and reserve DVDs either in-store or online using a PC or smartphone then collected their selections from a clerk behind the counter or even a drive-through window.

Hilton’s point is that the use of technology can lower the physical footprint, and in turn one of the biggest cost, of the video store by reducing what DVD stores pay on property rental by up to 80%.

The space-saving is substantial, according to Hilton he “can operate a 5 000-disc store from 10m2,” or “a 10 000-disc DVD store out of a space the size of a London Pie shop.” To compare that to the competition he faces from big name video store chains he brought the example of one that had opened in the immediate vicinity of one of his franchises, which subsequently went out of business, and could only hold 1 200 disks on hand.

[Source: Tech Central, Image: Tech Central]