Well here we are. 18 years later. Where has the time gone by? In July of 2005 I was desperate to get out of the bar industry, I wanted a purpose in life. Something to keep me wanting to get out of bed everyday for a reason that told me this would be my lot in life. Something that would give me an identity more than being around my fellow beer drinking friends in a pub. Now in fairness I equally embrace that lifestyle as well and good times have been had through out the years. But when the chance came to try something new and it involved movies how could I say no?
My VCR raised me in the 80s and the movie theaters taught me lessons. I was almost 30 and figured it’s now or never to find purpose. So thanks to some local bussiness friends helping me out with the money side of things (no bank was ever giving this guy a loan) and a helpful had of bar friends lending their painting skills, adding some furnature (the red couch has really sat in the shop since opening day) and just saying “fuck it” I dove into becoming one of dozens of videostores in the city.
So on August 1st, 2005 THE LOBBY DVD SHOP opened up. I wanted to be different, more culty, more niche, more straight up honest than the others. A place where you could come in and we could could just bullshit about the good, bad, and the ugly of cinema while hopefully you would rent or buy something to keep my lights on.
All I know is those first two years I figured I made the biggest mistake of my life. No money was made and I had to actually double my bar job to keep the bills paid. Even in 2005 opening a videostore was a stupid idea if you wanted to make money as it still is in 2023.
But as time went on a funny thing happened. No money has been ever made to be clear. But the other videostores that believed in making money started closing around my world. First Blockbuster ( no big loss), then Roger’s Video, then the smaller shops like Video Station, Sneak Preview, Movie Studio, and Videodrome AKA Alternative Video.
Now with all the shops closed around me you would think life would be better, things would be on the up and up. No. It was a streaming site world and I just sat in it and watched it all burn around me. But since I was in too deep as time went on and had no other real skills to fall back on I had no choice but to keep the dream of the videostore alive.
Sure, many days I was like what the hell am I doing and what is the point of working seven days a week and making no money. I was young enough still. I could get a good paying job without the actual responsiblities. Just do your job, grab your cheque, pay your rent, and find time to have fun inbetween your shifts like your other friends, One problem though.
The videostore is my fun. And the number one reason is you guys, the customers that over time have become my friends. The power of nerd talk is real. Where polital and religion talk can separate and divide us the talk of cinema, whether agreeing or not about film, has always brought us together. It is a community. It is a safe haven of fun talk, and most importantly a removal from the some times twisted and frustrating world we live in day to day.
Now I mean this in the nicest way possible but IT IS because of you guys that I will die a a poor man with desperately keeping the last video store in Edmonton alive. You are the reason I will have no retirement plan. You are the reason everytime I have a sale in the shop it is because some bill has to paid (yup, I’m that obvious). You are the reason why some days I have to immediately go to the bar when I close to talk myself down from a ledge in my head. AND I WOULD HAVE IT NO OTHER WAY.
For all the negative stuff I just wrote my true inner feelings when it comes to THE LOBBY DVD SHOP and you guys are the exact opposite. You guys give me life. You guys give me a purpose to wake up every day. You are the fuel that keeps this ship going.
In the world of streaming and downloading you keep on coming. From long time regulars to the newest person to walk in and ask “wow! when did you open?”
I know I have fucked up my personal life because of this store. Thank god cats are forgiving. I know i could have and should have stopped years ago when everyone else did but I always know I can not.
Always I joke I am a terrible bussiness man, which I am, but I am a damn huge movie fan and that trumps all. I always say it might not pay the bills but inspiring some young kid to get into some sweet 70s, 80s, or 90s genre cinema pays the mental bills. Just when I am about to throw in the towel a new face walks in, an old face that is happy to see I’m still open walks in, or to be honest…I walk in late at night like right now in my closed hours just to relax, look around the silly movie titles, and get pure comfort and take a deep breath.
In life we all we need a break from problems. Could be financial. Could be family. Could be work. But as a fan of cinema the video store was and is always a place to just shut that off, banter with fellow nerds, and hopefully re-energized to keep on trucking.
Some might think that sounds silly but I don’t think so. There are usually two types of jobs. One that pays the best money but you are miserable everyday going to it and can not wait to collect and retire. The other is the job you absolutely adore that feels like fun but you are fighting day by day to figure out what’s for dinner. Sure the goal is to have to middle road job you sorta like and pays sorta good but not many have it. For me it is ” how many ways can I make KD?” Would I change it? HELL NO.
The many reason again goes back to you guys. My customers. My movie family. I have no idea what I would do without you. You are truly my drive. My reason to keeping the doors open. Life affirming.
From the young kid that drawns an AVP picture that I proudly display in the shop to the older gentleman who is hearing impaired who was so excited I could have a movie he loved with subtitles that he could revisit it again.
Sometimes I feel all the bad things that has hit the video store and me personally over these 18 years is deserved because I did a lot of stupid and selfish things in my younger years. But then I feel maybe it’s a test from the “movie gods” themselves saying “you say you love us but will keep fighting the good fight for us”. Will I keep the dream of this old basement video store alive to tell people that walk in from all walks of lives, all ages, all backgrounds, that we, as movie lovers, are the exact fucking same. Our tastes might be different but we all truly love the world of movies and it is my job and duty in life to make sure I can track down and find you that one film you remember and loved from a different time in your life and bring back into your hands.
This latest store anniversary is not about me. It is about the history of the store itself. It is about meeting the best people. Customers turned friends. Creating a film festival. Making short films. Making a feature movie (coming soon), educating in a bizarre way the history of cinema to a TIK TOK generation. Having that same TIK TOK generation educate me on cinema I would have never heard about it. I always say the video store is built half of what I can think of and the other half what you guys have TAUGHT me. I am no teacher of movies. I’m just a guy sitting behind a desk. You guys come in and TEACH ME. I love you all for it. New customers and old.
Also during this banter I wanna give a personal thank you to my friend Brian. For years I ran the shop seven days a week because I had to. Thanks to my good friend he has now allowed me to occasionally escape to try to enjoy a day away (no easy task) but knowing his absolute love for the shop and all the amazing effort he has given the shop by creating merchandise and trying to improve it I can never thank him enough. He tells me just getting to work in the shop is thanks enough but I feel it is not. Brian, thank you. So please I encourage you if you visit the shop on a Tuesday when he is working know this…he is literally doing it for the love of the shop. Nothing else. Always treat him well.
Now I say this next part every year I think. I’m not sure how long I can keep the shop going. The world changes, the Whyte Ave changes, the builing itself might change. Do I have a plan if shit goes south. Hell No! Am I gonna do my best to make this damn thing work till I die and look like The Cryptkeeper? Hell Yes! and why? Well…I think the whole point of rambling these words was to hopefully get the point across…BECAUSE OF YOU GUYS! You are my life line, my blood, my family. From a first time customer to a long time friend once a customer. I truly feel a place like the video store just like a record shop or book store is needed in society. We might not have it all but we’ll try and as I always say…you come looking for one thing but you end up discovering something totally different.
I could keep typing away but I’ll save the rest for my book “LATE FEES AND JAGER”. Till then, love you all and thank you for supporting the little video store for 18 freaking years! LOVE YOU ALL.