The Ballymena community has been saddened by the sudden death on July 27 of a man who was undoubtedly the best known character in the town’s once thriving video rental business, Stuart Easton.
Stuart first worked in Tower Video at Larne Road and the Cullybackey Road from 1991.
When that business was sold to multi-national chain Xtra-vision in 1994 Stuart worked there until 1998 when he moved to join Video City which had opened on Cullybackey Road the previous year.
There he teamed up again with one of his closest friends and former work colleagues, Tara Bruce who was managing Video City at the time and who, along with another former colleague Darren Kerr has many stories to tell of Stuarty’s “unique banter“ with customers over the years.
They recall that his infectious personality allied to a passion for films made Stuart many friends among customers who trusted his critique of the latest releases and his ability to help them select ‘a good film’.
Stuart had a personal collection of over 2,000 DVDs, many featuring his favourite genres of sci-fi and horror and his favourite actress, Jamie Lee Curtis.
Video City owner Ivan McCombe said: “I was in the business for 28 years and I employed hundreds of people at outlets in every town in the country but no one had the connection or relationship with customers that Stuarty had. When out and about the town and if Video City came up in conversation, the words ‘big Stuarty’ always came up and with a real genuine affection. He had such a personality that he could say absolutely anything to people and they never took offence.
“Staff and customers alike just loved Stuart for his sense of fun and his unrivalled knowledge of films. I would go as far as to say that Stuarty WAS Video City in Ballymena,“
That view has been supported by messages of condolence which have appeared on Facebook since Stuart’s death from local people, many of whom agreeing that he was ‘a legend’.
An only child, Stuart was born and bred in the Moat Road.
Harryville was his home for his 68 years and in his early life, he worked in local factories.
A very private man outside of work, Stuart lived alone with no close relatives since the death of his parents in 1981.
His funeral, which will take place this Thursday, August 7, from Stevenson’s Funeral home on Ballymena’s Cushendall Road, at 11am has been arranged by his friends Tara Bruce, Darren Kerr and Ivan McCombe who hope that many former work colleagues and customers will attend to pay their final respects to “a real Ballymena character”.