One of the last film rental shops in Sussex is to close its doors, after 33 years of trading in Littlehampton.
Owner Phil Hathway started Rentafilm in Arundel Road, Littlehampton, with his brother Steve at a time when people had just started buying their own video machines, when there were only four channels on television and it would take years for films in the cinema to make it into the shops.
Spotting an opportunity, the brothers set up what was only the second rental store in town.
But now, as the store plans to close on Tuesday, July 18, Phil said: “Times have changed.
“People don’t rent movies anymore, they use Netflix.
“It’s become too difficult to make it work.”
The 52-year-old, who lives in Worthing and for the last two years has run the shop by himself, said he was sad to be closing.
“It’s been emotional and quite difficult,” he said.
The shop stocked hundreds of films and video games, as well as providing a photograph printing service.
Looking back, Phil said he had enjoyed running the shop and said of the film industry: “It’s an exciting business.
“It’s a new product every week.”
The best thing about the job has been forging ‘a really good relationship with the customers’.
“We’ve had people come in when they were kids who now come in with their own kids,” he said.
“You get to know people, and know their tastes.”
When it comes to recommending films, he said: “An algorithm isn’t the same as speaking to someone.”
He thanked all his customers for their loyalty over the years.
Marc Ginnaw, of Broadmark Lane, Rustington, has been a customer almost since the shop opened and said he would be ‘sad to see it go’ – though he was impressed it had survived for so long.
“I’ve carried on going there all these years because of the service,” he said.
“Phil will recommend movies you wouldn’t always consider normally with good results.
“This and his good nature and friendliness will be greatly missed by myself, my family and all his customers.”