The lobby keeps movie rentals alive in Edmonton | Jobi Cool


As Halloween approaches, many Edmontonians may be looking for a scare and ‘Film Guy’ is here to help.

Kevin Martin, or ‘the movie guy,’ owns The Lobby, the ultimate movie rental shop in Edmonton. Whatever you’re looking for, he says he’ll help you find it.

“One thing…streaming sites don’t have going for them yet, is a proper algorithm. I’m a human algorithm. Tell me what you want, tell me what I like.”

“You like it? You like it.”

Martin said when the lobby opened in 2005, it was a small business trying to compete with big brands like Blockbuster. A lover of alternative films, he made a niche for himself by bringing in B movies, independent and foreign films and several horror flicks.

Now, he added, mainstream movies from decades ago are hard to find on streaming platforms, and The Lobby has also become home to classic action and comedy movies.

“The store has become more about helping people find movies they loved when they were kids, but couldn’t remember the name or find,” he said. “So in a weird way, I’m like a cinematic bounty hunter — I’ll track them down.”

He brings in about 120 movies a week, Martin said, with a floating list of 11,000 movies to rent or buy. And, the store is a scary place with about 60 percent of the stock falling into categories.

“Everybody loves a good horror movie. Everybody needs a good scare,” Martin said.

For thrill seekers, he said the classics are a good place to start, and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, The Shining, Halloween and The Thing are great choices if you haven’t seen them yet.

But if you’re looking for something less scary, Martin said he’s happy to help.

“You get your clients saying, ‘I really need something to blow my mind. Something more extreme,'” he said, adding that a trip to the exotic section usually does the trick.

“Everybody has different tastes, and you hope that when they come back to those movies they’re like, ‘Thank you, I guess. Because it really worked for me on such a wrong level.'”

If you’re looking for something hyper local, you can’t get any closer to domestic horror than renting one of Martin’s own short films, filmed in The Lobby and starring a version of Martin himself. He said a full feature film starring him and The Lobby will premiere in 2023.

There are still more people coming in to rent movies, Martin said, but he still works a second job to help pay the bills. He says he has no plans to close the shop and no plans to retire.

“The only reason I’ve been able to survive is because frankly I don’t believe in making money,” Martin said. “Most people, I’ve found, work their whole lives at a job they hate to make good money for retirement.”

“I’ll keep working, love what I do so it doesn’t feel like work.”


CTV News Edmonton with files from Nicole Weisberg





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