After getting the tip that Dagu Lu’s DVD stores have shut down, we headed there to check it out, expecting to see nothing but empty shelves through locked doors. We shouldn’t have underestimated this street – while DVD trade has indeed quieted down due to increased inspections, some of the stores are not quite gone.
On the south side of the street, two stores were open. Approaching one, we saw a few disappointed expats emerge empty-handed. The store, usually bright and bustling, was dim, empty (except for us), and operating with half its original floor space (the other half, unseen behind a hastily erected partition, presumably contained the contraband items). Old, dusty but legit films lined the shelves. Seeing my disappointment, the girl at the counter told me to come back around 7 or 8 p.m., when they would bring out the good stuff. “The Expo cops come often. We can only bring out the DVDs in the evening.” I asked why they dared to do that when inspections have been stepped up. “Because that’s when they are off work.”
As soon as we stepped into the next open store, which featured the same dusty but legit DVDs, the guys in charge told me to “come back tomorrow – we have a shipment of new movies coming in.” How often is the street checked, I wondered. “Almost every day, but only at certain times. We can guess when they won’t come. We still sell.” As we left, he reminded us to come back the day next for “a better selection.”
The DVD stores across the street, not as lucky or enterprising as their competitors, seemed closed for good, with curtains pulled and doors double/triple locked. Neighboring businesses told us that the stores had just recently shut down thanks to “Expo inspections, orders from Beijing,” and that they had no idea if they would reopen.
So there you have it – the Dagu Lu DVD strip lives on, barely. You can still get your shanzhai DVD fix there, but it will take some work. We’ll miss the stores as they were, especially the proud ‘Even Better Than Movie World.’ Whatever your stance is on pirated DVDs and copyrights, the fact is they had an excellent variety of international and regional movies to fill our film-starved souls, stuff we wouldn’t have gotten otherwise in China.