Covid, Netflix, pirating kill Fish Hoek’s last video store

VideoRite in Fish Hoek Main Road.

Fish Hoek’s last video store, VideoRite, will close after more than 30 years in the valley.

Dennis Keet, the store’s owner, says the last day of trade will be on Monday February 15.

Mr Keet said it was with a heavy heart that he had decided not to renew the lease agreement of what is now the last VideoRite store in the country.

VideoRite owner Dennis Keet inside the Fish Hoek VideoRite store.

The loss of trade during the Covid-19 pandemic, online streaming and illegal downloading were the final nails in the coffin for the store, which has been a source of entertainment for generations of residents.

The store closed for two months during the national lockdown last year. It had reopened in June to find itself with fewer customers, Mr Keet said.

“I think it was a combination of people not feeling comfortable leaving their homes and having become accustomed to online-streaming services such as Netflix,” he said.

The adjusted level 3 lockdown over the festive season further hurt the business as December and January are some of its busiest months.

The news on the store’s Facebook page was met with sadness. One customer wrote: “This is the saddest news. Your store, chats and service was legendary and your Xmas window displays to boot.”

Another said: “Thank you for making our Friday nights a DVD tradition when my kids were younger.”

The first VideoRite opened in November 1990 in the old Sun Valley Mall, and, in 1993, the founder and former owner, Mike Lund, opened another branch in Itacha Mansions, in Recreation Road, Fish Hoek.

Mr Lund was also the owner of VideoRite Plumstead, Fantasy World in Meadowridge and Longbeach Videos in Longbeach Mall.

The Fish Hoek branch had grown at a rapid rate and had soon needed bigger premises, Mr Lund said.

It was by chance that Mr Lund noticed a vacant shop in a building opposite The Arcade where Perm Bank used to be and he relocated the store there in 1996.

Mr Keet, who hails from Plumstead, started working at the Sun Valley Mall branch in 1994 and later became area manager of the Fish Hoek store which became the flagship store.

Mr Lund was a chief petty officer in the navy for 21 years and bought the VideoRite franchise in 1990 after he was retrenched.

“I have always had a love for the movies, and that is why I had decided to buy it. I’m a people’s person, and the industry gave me the pleasure of meeting new people and making new friends,” he said.

Mr Lund said Mr Keet had been his right hand for many years and was like a son to him so it was only natural that when he decided to retire in 2019, due to ill health, that Mr Keet would take over the Fish Hoek store.

“Dennis has a similar love for the business and is extremely knowledgeable and professional. We had discussed the decline in business when he had taken it over, but he was determined to make it work… until Covid came along,” Mr Lund said.

Mr Keet said he did not know what the future held for him.

“I’m going to take a break to work through my emotions and conflicts and will then decide.”

He would miss chats with his customers and their children, some of whom had grown up in front of him, the most, he said.

“My customers are very close to my heart. The response and encouragement from the community has been overwhelming, and I want to thank them for their years of support,” Mr Keet said.

Regular customer Howard Loughton said he was very sad to hear of the store’s closure. He said Mr Keet set a high bar for customer service.

“Dennis has a knowledge of movies going back 15 to 20 years, and he always makes good recommendations. He is always friendly, helpful and professional,” he said.