Dan Creskoff’s favorite part of his new business is the bathroom.
It’s located near the back of the store, wallpapered in “painstakingly picked out” 8-by-11 movie posters from top to bottom. Special-ordered and cut out, there’s everything from the 1922 silent German horror film “Nosferatu” to the 1971 cult classic, “Harold and Maude.”
Creskoff, a Temple alumnus who studied media-television-film, opened CineMug, a combined coffee shop and movie rental.
It’s $4.50 to rent an older title for three days and $5 for newer movies and memberships are available. And aside from the carefully curated bathroom decoration, the movie selection at Cinemug – which totals more than 1,600 titles, many of which come straight from Creskoff’s own collection – is given the same thought and care, offering only foreign, art, cult and other “hard-to-find” movies.
His employees, a staff of eight, were handpicked after taking a movie quiz to “weed out people who don’t know anything about movies,” Creskoff said. From directors to foreign movies, Creskoff said he required the test to assure a social atmosphere between employee and customer – a place to talk about movies and get recommendations from an actual human, not an automated list based on an algorithm of previously watched titles.
“I think that’s what’s lacking with the online streaming and discs in the mail,” Creskoff said. “You know, you see a movie, you sort of want to talk about it with someone afterwards. [CineMug] just sort of gives us a space for that.”
Employee Chad Gurdgiel, a 24-year-old local filmmaker, said this job perfectly blends his interests together.
“This was my dream job,” he said. “It’s like heaven.”
When coming to food and drink, Creskoff said he reached out only to Philly shops to feature their products because “it’s important to be a part of [the] local community.” CineMug serves ReAnimator Coffee, LeBus Bakery pastries, South Street Bagels and Cosmi’s Deli sandwiches, along with some in-house items.
In the same vein, Creskoff stays involved in the community by hosting weekly movie nights at 8 p.m. every Thursday. CineMug will have its own table set up at The Trocadero’s Night of Short Films XII – which will screen films from local to international – on Feb. 8.
But before he reached some success, Creskoff said he ran into naysayers who doubted his opening of a movie rental store in 2015.
“There was a big question mark in my head. Are people going to rent movies?” he said. “Until I opened the doors and saw someone rent a movie, I still wasn’t positive that it was going to work. But, I figured if I get movies that are sort of hard to find, if I get things that are interesting and cool, then hopefully other people feel the same.”
His collection is in the back of the store, where titles like “Punch-Drunk Love” and “Boyhood” stick out from the racks. But even still, he’s not entirely satisfied with the selection. Not until he gets all the titles he wants, like “Trainspotting” and “Citizen Kane.”
“And I don’t ever will be,” he said. “There are about 300 more on a list that I feel like I need to have before I’m happy.”
Patricia Madej can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Patricia Madej