Old Bank DVD Celebrates Five Years in the Historic Core
Mark Schumacher, Brie Wakeland and Erik Loysen inside Old Bank DVD, which opened on December 24, 2005.
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Five years ago, Mark Schumacher and Erik Loysen tore down the paper in the window of Old Bank DVD. They were determined to open by Christmas, and they just made it, opening the doors at 5pm on Christmas Eve 2005.
They've since moved around the corner of 4th and Main to a bigger space, but the shop remains a neighborhood staple.
This week, Loysen shared his thoughts on the opening process, changes in the movie rental industry and running a small business.
ERIC RICHARDSON: Tell us a little bit about the rush to get the store opened five years ago? Why such a push to get open Christmas Eve?
ERIK LOYSEN: Originally, we gave ourselves 1 month (November) for a buildout, which in hindsight was a bit ambitious considering it was just the two of us doing construction/painting/permitting/ordering and entering DVD's and well, everything else that pops up when opening a new store.
So as December started and with plenty of work still to do, opening by Christmas became our goal. By Christmas Eve we were kind of ready but figured we might as well lead with chin and open the doors. I remember we were about to open and realized we didn't have any change for our cash drawer and had to literally run to the bank before they closed.
Around 5:00 pm after a flurry of activity we ripped the paper off the windows and welcomed our first customers, some of whom are still around. Sold a couple of boxed sets too for some super last minute gifts. Each transaction was a bit of a chore as we were still learning our software and register, but we somehow managed to pull it off. We've been open for five years now and haven't closed for a single day.
ER: Five years ago you didn't have to compete with streaming Netflix movies and Red Box kiosks. How has the store remained relevant through all the change in the industry?
EL: Five years ago there was Netflix, of course, and some streaming online, but it was not as prevalent as it is now. When we first opened, a lot of customers thanked us because they finally get rid of their Netflix account.
We knew there would be competition from other media delivery systems, but figured a well curated and convenient Brick and Mortar video store could still thrive in this environment. There's something about the immediacy and spontaneity of browsing in the store combined with a knowledgeable and helpful staff that you don't get by scrolling through lists online.
ER: What's been the biggest surprise in running a retail business Downtown?
EL: Biggest surprise? i guess it would be the diversity of our customers. With such a broad customer base we really have to cast a wide net in terms of ordering movies. It's really kept us on our toes and as a result we have a pretty diverse collection now.
ER: What piece of advice would you give someone who is looking to open a business?
EL: Get help! Talk to a lot of people who have done it before. Visit other stores like the one you are about to open and pick their brains. Do an honest business plan, it really helps to focus you on exactly what you want to do or if it's even feasible.
Oh, and double your prep time.
ER: What are you excited about when it comes to Old Bank DVD's plans for 2011? What's on the horizon?
I'm really excited about building some new shelves. A modest thing in your home, but for a video store it's kind of a big deal. We've threatened to do some in-store screenings or chats with filmmakers, so hopefully we can make that happen this year.
Basically we'll just keep plugging away ordering and watching movies and adding to the collective unconscious - you know, that Jungian thing.
Old Bank DVD is located at 400 S. Main, on 4th Street just east of Main.