Since 1996, Billy Payne has looked forward to the box of new releases that arrived at his Murray’s Grocery convenience store each week.
It’s an experience he’s sad to see evaporate as the convenience store has officially announced it will no longer be renting movies.
Payne’s uncle Murray Payne opened the Peninsula Road store in 1968 and was renting movies from it prior to Billy purchasing the business in 1996. Billy’s wife Sue believes the store has rented movies for over 30 years.
“Back in the day it made pretty good money,” Billy said, adding that the arrival of high-speed fibre optic internet in 2017 was the final nail in the movie rental coffin as faster download speeds made online streaming services more palpable for West Coast residents.
“One word, Netflix,” Sue said.
Sue suggested Murray’s was “one of the last holdouts” in the vanishing movie rental industry and added that the store offered a unique one-stop-shop movie night experience where families could pick a movie along with an assortment of treats to enjoy while watching it.
“It’s an institution with Murray’s. Everybody knew us for goodies and movies. So that’s a big part of us that we’re losing and it’s sad,” she said.
Billy added that the news was sad for customers who had enjoyed the now-retro experience.
“We’ve had a lot of people down here that have said, ‘Thank you very much for having the movies here for all this time so we can come down with our kids and our kids can have the experience of renting a movie,’” he said. “That’s the main thing, the camaraderie between your customers and what you’re providing them…It’s very sad.”
Murray’s clerk Kyle Deakin said movie rentals were popular amongst tourists as well and that he’ll miss interacting with customers coming in to rent DVD’s, as well as renting them himself.
“For me, it’s the experience. It’s just fun to look at all of the different covers and decide on a movie,” he said. “There’s a noticeable difference between standing in front of a wall and seeing physical copies as opposed to scrolling on the Internet.”
Sue added that Murray’s frequently supported local community events and fundraisers by offering up free DVD’s and rentals for prizes and auctions.
“We gave to just about everybody,” she said. “And, movies were always a good thing. People would always bid on movies. So, that’s one support that we can no longer give to the community which, again, is sad.”
Murray’s current movie inventory is all up for sale and the Paynes said they are still determining what to do with the space that will open up along the wall that once housed movies.