Mark Schumacher and Erik Loyson kicked open the doors to Old Bank DVD on Christmas Eve of 2005. Both veterans of the LA’s film industry (Mark’s a Director of Photography, Eric’s a grip) they saw an opportunity in downtown’s growing Old Bank District, found a space in the same building as the downtown staple, ‘Pete’s’ and haven’t looked back. The store is serves as both a neighborhood hangout as well as the only DVD rental place around, and every night you’ll see a small gathering both inside the store as well as out, with locals sitting on the front patio enjoying a beverage or a few cigarettes.
Mark’s a pioneer of the downtown area, having lived here going on seventeen years. Eric calls Echo Park home, and rides his scooter to and from the shop every day. They’re place is as much a part of the neighborhood as the concrete that makes up the sidewalk
As a screenwriter and general cinephile, I’ve been consistently impressed with Old Bank’s catalogue since moving to 4th and Main one year ago. My tastes run from the popular to the very obscure and I’ve only been able to stump Erik and Mark once (they need to pick up the film, “Stander”, a great true-crime flick about the Australian bank robber and cop, check it out if you get the chance). They’re recommendations are always spot on and good tunes are always playing inside of the shop. Old Bank DVD is truly a staple of my neighborhood and I think we’d all be a little lost without it.
Other than to rep a place that I think represents everything great about downtown’s resurgence- independence, community, quality, knowledgeable folks behind the counter- I also wanted to ask Erik about how he’s seen things change in the Old Bank over the past three years, both as a member of the community and a business owner. As one of the first shops to operate down here, he’s seen the once dormant and vacant Main Street become bustling with commerce. Since Old Bank opened they’ve seen many bars, a bookshop, a vintage clothing store, a tattoo parlor, and a few restaurants crop up, and not one of them has had to close their doors since. Not to mention business for Old Bank DVD itself. Erik contends they sign up approximately 100 new customers every month, which not only speaks to their success, but also reveals how quickly this neighborhood is growing. Eric believes that “growth is good” for the area, and hasn’t seen the character of the neighborhood change, despite development. Other than the occasional difficulty finding a parking space, something that was never an issue back in ’05, the changes the area has undergone have only lent themselves to the neighborhood’s vitality and spirit, it seems. Eric believes that despite the growing popularity of the Old Bank, with Art Walk the second Thursday of every month and what seems to be like a new bar opening every other week, this neighborhood will never become “tragically hip”, like Los Feliz or some of LA’s more burned out and overwrought locales. I pray that he’s right, and as of now we seem to be retaining our authenticity.
Ultimately, Eric and Mark made a good bet, having been hanging around down here for the better part of a decade they looked into the future and capitalized. The neighborhood is all the better for the foresight, and I know that tonight when I head downstairs to pick up a flick, I’ll be better off as well. If you’re ever in the neighborhood, pop in and get a recommendation. You won’t be disappointed.