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That’s a Wrap: ‘Movie Stop’ Closing Doors After 33 Years

Friday, June 24, 2022 @ 12:06 AM

Posted by Jacob Deemer

IMG_3194 (1)OIL CITY, Pa. (EYT) – A cornerstone of the Oil City’s East First Street district is being forced to close up shop after decades in the community. 

(Photo above: Captured by Jacob Deemer/EYT.)

The Movie Stop has been synonymously known by the big red stop sign hanging above the 2 East First Street business since it opened in 1989.

Owner Chris Arduini, a native of Erie, had worked for the original Erie-based Movie Stop store since 1985. Movie Stop was originally an entity of Rent-Way (formerly Rent-to-Own), which started Movie Stop to rent and sell VCRs.

“It’s been my whole life,” told exploreVenango. “That’s all I’ve ever done my whole adult life.”

Arduini bought the business in early 2002.

When asked to summarize his tenure in Oil City, he paused and related that he didn’t know if he could without being moved by emotion.

“I kept it alive. I’m pretty knowledgeable at this,” he uttered. “I just had a knack for this business.”

“The pandemic was real tough,” Arduini added. “We survived the pandemic because we held on to all the old movies that were 20, 30, 40, 50 years old.”

Captured during the 2019 wine walk in Oil City. Photo courtesy Oil City Movie Stop.

Arduini said he was caught off guard when he learned the tenant next door at 6 East First Street, Raymond James, was moving out, and the landlord, Bob Kellner, wanted to combine the two units.

Kellner also owns and operates Kellner Fireworks in Harrisville.

Kellner told exploreVenango the idea to combine the units came when Raymond James moved out, and the upstairs tenant–The Performing Arts Academy with Darin–requested more space.

“Movie Stop has an office and some storage, and a bathroom on the second floor,” he said. “(The Performing Arts Academy with Darin) wants to take that over, and therefore, that unit, Movie Stop, would need more than just a showroom. We thought, well, since Raymond James is moving out, we’re working to put it into one unit that will have an office and bathroom on the first floor.”

Kellner plans to initiate a project in which an archway will be constructed on the combining wall.

A retail store would be a preferable tenant, he added.

“I’m hoping that when we’re done, it’ll be beautiful, and we’ll have a good retail tenant in it, but I haven’t gotten that far yet.”

When asked if he had plans to put an outlet store for Kellner Fireworks in the unit, he replied that it’s “probably not a good idea in downtown Oil City.”

As for Arduini, he has no immediate plans for Movie Stop and said he will continue to rent out movies until the middle of July.

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