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Odd Obsession Seeks $25K In Stolen Films, Fees As Rent Hike Forces Move

By Alisa Hauser | April 27, 2015 11:07am

BUCKTOWN — Driven out by rising rent, the owner of Odd Obsession — one of the last specialty video stores in existence — is asking former customers to return $25,000-plus in missing/stolen movies and late fees to help pay for his team's relocation to cheaper digs.

Odd Obsessions employee John Davies in front of the shop's old and new storefront at 1830 N. Milwaukee Ave. (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)

Odd Obsession Movies owner Brian Chankin plans to launch a crowd-funding campaign to help move the shop and purchase new titles. But first he hopes some former customers return movies they've stolen — or at least pay their fees.

"Over the years we have lost $20,000-$25,000 dollars in movies brought back lost or damaged. When it comes down to it there has been at least 1,500 movies stolen," Chankin said. 

The shop, which has been located at 1822 N. Milwaukee Ave. since 2006, was facing a steep rent increase at the end of their lease, Chankin said. So they found a spot three doors north at 1830 N. Milwaukee Ave. they'll move to in late May.

Over the past nine years, Chankin, who also recently opened a Noble Square art gallery, has grown his shop's collection of movies from 4,000 titles to more than 25,000.

Alisa Hauser says the owners are trying to stay positive about the move:

The films are categorized by director, country and genre.  Some fall under subsets such as "Popular Hollywood Movies from 1980s," "Sexploitation" and even "After School Specials."

The store used to tape a list of missing movies, along with the first and last names of those who rented the movie, to a wall. But about two years ago — right around the time the shop's cat, Precious, passed away— the list was removed.

"We don't want to scare people away. We are trying to find a middle ground between getting our movies back and keeping [the offenders] as customers," said John Davies, an Odd Obsession employee who helps Chankin call people who have failed to return movies.

Anyone who returns a long lost movie will be charged the replacement price plus a minor restocking fee, Davies said, adding that "amnesty could be granted" during the first week of May.

"We honor humility. If you come in with late fees, you will ALWAYS get a discount," Davies wrote in an email, adding, "Mostly, I think they get a week or two behind and just freak out. They think, "I might as well just keep these, if those a--holes are going to charge me a dollar a day."

"I like to remind people that the movies are one man's personal property and not that of some faceless corporation, Davies said. "We know the movies are out there. We just want them back so others can enjoy them."

Since the shop has rare titles, like "Forbidden Zone," a musical from 1980, it can cost as much as $100 to replace the missing movies, Chankin said.

Other movies like "Stalker," a post-apocalyptic Russian film from 1979, cost $40 per copy, Chankin said.

Davies said "Spirited Away," a Japanese animated film from 2001 about a girl that wonders into a world run by monsters where humans are changed into beasts is one of the most often stolen or "never returned" titles.

Odd Obsession Movies, 1822 N. Milwaukee Ave. Hours are 2 to 10 p.m. daily.  Ph: 773-276-0894.  For updates, visit the store's Facebook page or Twitter, @Oddobsession.

(l.) Odd Obsession Movie's owner Brian Chankin with now deceased shop cat, Precious. Antoine Moore, a shop volunteer. Joe Rubin, a former clerk who restores 1970s-era pornography (DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser)

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