[Local Film]

Rental heaven: At Movies & Candy, Trevor Layne is living his video-store dream

Photo: Adam Shane
Jason Harris

To put it in movie terms, Trevor Layne Inception-ed us. He somehow found his way into one of our dreams and decided to live it.

Like many of you, I’ve often thought about how cool it would be to have my own video store. I used to work at one of the big ones when I was a teenager, and the arrested development part of me remembers just how much fun it was. But that was a simpler time. A time when DVDs ruled. A time when Netflix and other streaming options didn’t exist. Certainly in today’s world of instant access, a video store couldn’t work. I—we—put that silly dream away.

But Layne, a former blackjack dealer and commercial real estate agent, didn’t. Ridiculously, he opened Movies & Candy on Eastern Avenue just north of Horizon Ridge two and a half years ago. And the business that shouldn’t have worked, did. “It took us only three months to get profitable,” the 41-year-old tells me, almost as if it’s still a surprise to him.

How did this happen? When the housing market crashed, the laid-back Las Vegas lifer taught guitar full-time. He used all his extra cash to buy movies. With around 35,000 films in his collection, he thought maybe his void matched a void for the people: “I opened it out of my need for wanting to rent movies.”

Layne has fond memories of his time as a customer at his old video store. “I would go every week and rent all these old horror movies. We’d get VHS tapes, a Bootlegger pizza and some spaghetti and watch them as a family.” That’s the feeling he wants to bring back. Like the stores of yesteryear, Movies & Candy runs all types of deals—seven movies for seven nights for $7.77, and so on.

Make no mistake, the candy part is essential. Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups sit alongside forgotten favorites like Zotz, a sweet sucking candy that explodes with sourness when bitten. There are more than 20 types of soda and Popped Gourmet Popcorn, so you can rot your teeth in any number of ways.

When I ask Layne about his favorite movies, the first two he mentions are Tropic Thunder and Big Tits Zombie. But where to watch?

Tucked away behind the rows of DVDs—catalogued either by their release decades (dating back to the 1920s) or the genre they fall into—stands a red curtain. Behind that is the pièce de résistance: a screening room with a 150-foot movie screen, luxury leather seats, a comfy couch and more than 20 bean bag chairs. Layne rents the place out for $10 a head, and it’s big business. He estimates that they do at least 20 parties a month, everything from kids’ birthdays to date nights.

As Layne and I chat, Clint, a first-time visitor, stumbles in by accident. “Our friend wanted to get Elvira swag,” he says. “We thought it was a gift store. It’s nice to see the videos. It’s like walking into the ’90s.” Then Brooklyn, a 6-year-old cartoon fanatic grabbing a new Scooby-Doo movie, arrives along with his mother. They’ve been regulars since the place opened. Layne estimates 80 percent of his business comes from regulars.

Perhaps it’s nostalgia. Perhaps it’s a sense of community. Perhaps it’s the opportunity to have real conversations about movies. Perhaps it’s because, yes, video stores, like record stores, are still fun. Whatever the reason, Movies & Candy is doing well, and Trevor Layne is living our silly dream.

Movies & Candy 10895 S. Eastern Ave. #160, 702-241-8888. Monday-Saturday, noon-9 p.m.; Sunday, noon-8 p.m.

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