Rental champ hits the pause button

• Mel McInerney’s massive DVD collection will be frozen in carbonite in case of a future reopening. Photo by David Bell.

ONE of Australia’s last bastions of movie rentals is set to fall, with Network Video Mt Hawthorn closing at the end of February.

Owner Mel McInerney says the internet and “age of convenience” had been mortal enemies, though rents at The Mezz shopping centre delivered the coup de grace.

“In 2012 when I purchased this business, my rent was almost 50 per cent less than it is now,” Ms McInerney said.

It’s been a long time since she took a wage herself, but it’s become a struggle paying the rent and she doesn’t want the store to feel like a burden.


”I don’t want those vibes over the store… that was my happy place.”

Network was her childhood video store, and she wasn’t even a movie buff when she bought it out of “nostalgia”, wanting to keep alive her memories of browsing through the thousands of titles on the shelves.

Long past the rental industry’s prime and despite the rent, the store’s been kept chugging along by Ms McInerney’s legendary customer service and kindness, mentioned to the Voice by just about anyone who’s been there, and the main theme in the award-winning short film The Throwback.

“I hold some of my fondest memories from owning it,” Ms McInerney says.

“I really wish to thank everyone for all the support over the many years, it has been very humbling to be loved and appreciated by so many wonderful people.

“My staff and I will miss you all so much.”

She says it’s been hard to tell the six staff about the decision.

“My staff are amazing people that have become like family. I don’t think there has been a week that I haven’t been asked ‘Is that your daughter? Is that your son? Is that your sister?’ And the funniest one of all, ‘Is that your partner?’

“We hug and kiss, we’ve supported each other, and we shout out ‘love you!’ upon exiting the store. It’s no wonder our customers are confused.”


She’s had a lot of people calling in asking about purchasing titles, especially rare ones no longer in production (quite a few punters are keen to get hold of her Japanese anime series that can costs hundreds).

But she doesn’t want to sell them. They’re going into storage in the hope that one day she might reopen as a nostalgic time capsule.

“In five, six, ten years, if I ever get to open that retro diner that I always wanted to have, or that little hub for the film industry.”


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