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Old School Cool
Many teenagers during his era collected skateboards, sports cards and Star Wars figurines.
Lewis Wilson was the exception.
He fondly remembers walking into a California arcade to play Asteroids in 1979. Wilson’s frequent treks to the malls continued into the ’80s as he devoutly inserted coins into machines to play Pac-Man, pinball and an assortment of games.
Wilson enjoyed the experience enough that he began collecting arcade machines. And now he hopes to share it with another generation when he opens Arcadia today on the first floor at Towne Square.
“I told my wife, ‘We have all of these games, so why not start up an arcade?’” he said.
Wilson said that his wife countered that arcades are a relic from the ’80s. But he thinks it can be successful. Wilson said he has heard that with the exception of Hi-Joy Bowl, there are not many activities for children in the area — especially ones that can connect parents with their children.
“Where else can you have kids come in and play pool?” Wilson said. “Dads can play pool with their 7-year-olds.”
Arcadia features 31 games — Wilson plans to add more — in its 2,188-square foot space. Within a couple of months, he hopes to open an area next door for a party room with a pinball machines and other games.
Wilson, 47, who owns the business with his wife, Daniella, and son, Michael Smith, said there are a variety of games to cater to different ages. It starts with a jump house and extends to the pool and air-hockey tables. There also will be staples from the ’80s, including Pac-Man and Frogger.
He also wants to keep it affordable. Wilson said there will be a $5 all-day pass. He said most games will cost an average of 50 cents, but there always will be 10 games that are included for free after the entrance fee is paid.
Wilson said he wants to create a family friendly environment at Arcadia. In an ode to the arcade era, he said only ’80s music will be played in his business, but none of it will be hard or vulgar because he does not want to disrupt other stores or his family theme.
He said two staffs members will be working at all times to monitor the room. There also will be a lounge area where parents can watch their children.
In addition to rules against bullying, drinking, drugs, smoking and sagging, Wilson said the arcade will not open until 2 p.m. during the week.
“Kids won’t cut class to come to the arcade,” Wilson said. “I feel like it can work here. I believe kids can respect and appreciate what we have.”
Arcadia closes at 8 p.m. on weekdays to coincide with Towne Square hours. It is open from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Saturday and noon to 5:30 p.m. Sunday. Wilson said he will open at 11 a.m. on weekdays during the summer.