Wellington's beloved Aro Video facing closure

One of New Zealand's oldest standing video stores is facing closure after more than three decades in business.

Aro Video in Wellington has gone through more twists and turns than a spaghetti western. The shop's life span has seen technology evolve from videos through to streaming, and now after 33 years it's on its final season.

The owner of the Wellington institution Andrew Armitage plans to close the shop's doors in six to 12 months, but in the meantime he wants to use that time to transition all 27,000 titles into a library for all to enjoy.

"It's just the long term sustainability. I keep using the phrase I can't kicking the can down the road," Armitage said.

He wants to donate the collection, one of New Zealand's largest, into a trust.

"So that it's looked after, not just by me, but by others that are interested in preserving the legacy," Armitage said.

It's a legacy built on offbeat indies, like 1987 arthouse hit I've Heard the Mermaids Singing. The store did "gangbusters" with it, Armitage said.

"It was a film that really marked out our point of difference when we opened as a video store in 1989. So the average video store wouldn't have done very well with I've Heard the Mermaids Singing, and I knew it was a very popular film at the film festival," he said.

The film-length pilot of Twin Peaks from 1990 was also huge for the store.

"Everyone was talking about it, so it was a huge hit and one of our biggest renters in the 90s," Armitage said.

The store's now pivoted to create its own streaming service, leaving many of the physical copies defunct.

But Armitage hopes to create a library for them and is seeking Government funding and running a Pledge Me fund to help.

"Once a library like this is disestablished you cannot reassemble it."

He said he wasn't aware of a film library in New Zealand and said it was an unprecedented situation.

"It's not just the physical items as separate films. It's the collection. It's almost greater than the sum of its parts I would like to think," Armitage said.

Long-time customers sad to see an end of an era approaching.

"It's a really important place in Aro and in Wellington but I totally get it that people might not be coming in so much," Lexi Taylor said.


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