A HORROR film fan opening his own shop says he was turned down for a loan because Bournemouth council had “ethical” objections.
The council’s in-house bank took fright at backing Gary Baxter’s shop in Boscombe – the area famous for its connections with Frankenstein author Mary Shelley.
But Mr Baxter, who came off jobseeker’s allowance and took government training to set up his own business, has not been scared off.
His business, Dr Death’s Cinema Surgery, is due to open as planned on Saturday, with genre star Caroline Munro appearing.
“It would be nice if they would come down to see me and see the buzz that this place has created,” he said.
“At the moment we’re running up debt trying to keep the premises. We’ve gone into it believing we were going to get the money, so we’re taking risks which we wouldn’t necessarily have taken, but we’re cracking on.”
The shop, in the Royal Arcade, will sell hard-to-find films on DVD, Blu-Ray and VHS, as well as magazines, masks and other memorabilia. Mr Baxter was unemployed when he organised a successful horror film convention in January. He sought help from the government’s National Enterprise Allowance and did a business course with the government’s Outset scheme.
He said he received enthusiastic support from Outset advisers but was turned down for the loan he had expected and was referred to Bournemouth council’s community finance initiative. But the scheme, dubbed the ‘bank of Bournemouth’, refused him the £15,000 loan.
“They had to have a unanimous decision. I was told some of them didn’t think it was ethical to fund our business,” said Mr Baxter.
“I believe they were under the illusion we were going to be selling inappropriate material to underage kids.”
Stock at the shop includes overhead masks replicating Lon Chaney’s make-up in the 1925 Phantom of the Opera or Bela Lugosi in the 1930 Dracula.
Mr Baxter said: “I’m not a big fan of modern horror stuff as it tends to go more for shocks rather than telling a story. I’m kind of old school.”
The business has been supported by partner Jayne Crimin, who is Caroline Munro’s agent and is experienced in organising fan events, and by Fwah Storm, head of Reload Comics.
Liz Wilkinson, executive director for finance at the council and managing director of Bournemouth Community Finance Company, said in a statement that the council was keen to offer loans to help businesses.
She added: “Decisions for loans are made on a case-by-case basis. And while we cannot comment on individual applications, each one has to meet our lending criteria in order to be successful. This is to ensure we manage risk effectively while getting the best financial return for Bournemouth’s council taxpayers.”