Ghost Signs – Video Ezy


    By Sean Reynolds

    The year was 1983. Redgum blasted on the radio, BMX Bandits tore up the silver screen and Nintendo unleashed the pixelated madness of Mario Bros. Amidst this cultural chaos, in a small suburb of Sydney, Kevin Slater, a man with more vision than a marsupial on mescaline, launched a video rental shop called Video Ezy.

    Back in the disco-dusted 70s, Slater concocted a scheme as audacious as a Tassie devil at high tea. He ran a dingy storefront where secondhand books could be bought for the price of a meat pie. But Slater, inspired by American video rental fever, plotted to plant the flag of home cinema in the arid landscape of Australian entertainment.

    Enter ‘Seymour Butts’, a dubious character from the shadows of Slater’s past, who shared his tale on the anonymous message boards of the internet. Slater, allegedly, offered Butts a 50% stake in his video empire for a measly $10,000. Butts, however, scoffed at the idea. “How crazy are you, Kev?” he jeered. “Who’d ditch a night at the cinema for a dusty tape of some flick we all forgot? You’re dreaming, mate.”

    Undeterred, Slater threw open the doors of Video Ezy, stocking his video vault in Hurstville with an arsenal of 14,500 titles. The franchise exploded like a VB tinny in a campfire, dotting the Australian landscape with 102 stores by 1990, a number destined to triple within the decade.

    In 2007, Blockbuster Video handed over its Australian keys to the kingdom of Video Ezy. But the digital tide was turning, spelling doom for the brick-and-mortar shops. The final Blockbuster shuttered in 2018 in Australia, leaving only one final store in Bend, Oregon.

    Video Ezy, too, met its demise in the relentless march of progress, its last echoes drowned out by the COVID-19 pandemic’s silence. This fleeting Video Ezy sign in Williamstown stands as a weathered monument to those long ago days—a hand-painted tombstone marking where we once dared to dream in VHS. 

    A column by Sean Reynolds. If you’d like to read more stories about Melbourne’s past, follow me on Instagram @melbourne_ghostsigns.

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