Carl and Nicole Crocker have lived in the Lowell community for over a decade and have been married for 15 years. The two have a son, Jax, who is 9 and a daughter, Lily, who is 7. Together, the family has opened Retro Electric Arcade located at 2163 W. Main Street in the strip next to the movie theater.
This is not their first business venture together. While Nicole has taken on the tending when it comes to Buddy & Bean Farm, where she grows flowers to sell on a stand throughout the spring, summer, and fall, Carl has helped when it comes to building a greenhouse and other buildings as well as planting.
Blast from the Past
Retro Electric Arcade has been and will continue to be a complete family affair. While the adults are the legal owners of the business, Jax and Lily have done their part to help choose games, merchandise and candy for the store.
The idea to open a business based on arcade games stemmed from the family having a small arcade in their house. They love to have others over to play. “Many kids now have never seen a pinball machine and it’s fun to watch them learn how to play and enjoy these classic games. We had also amassed a good collection of 80s and 90s toys and nostalgia and we’re always hunting for more, so the retail portion of the business was a natural fit.” says Nicole.
The arcade will be a “throwback to the old neighborhood arcades of the 80s”. The Crockers are looking forward to being able to keep things small and be able to get to know and interact with their customers.
Keeping it Retro
Customers will find a variety of games available. The selection will always be rotating so the experience will be different for those who become regulars. And occasionally some of the games will be available for purchase.
Look for classics like Centipede, Asteroids, Frogger, and Donkey Kong. There will also be a lineup of pinball machines. Adults will be able to remember games they’ve played in the past and introduce them to a younger generation. The Mom’s Basement portion of the arcade features an area where customers can play Original Nintendo, Super Nintendo, Nintendo 64, or Playstation 2. A Foosball table will also be available to use.
In addition to arcade games, visitors will be able to find fun candy, unique sodas, chips, and vintage toys and collectibles for sale. There will also be some new toys and pop culture items.
Catching Up with the Crockers
While the family has been busy getting their space ready for customers, they took time out of the schedule to answer questions for us. Here’s some of what they shared about their experiences and love for arcade games.
For Carl, Pinbot is his favorite classic game from the 80s. “ It’s a relatively simple pinball machine compared to the new machines of today but it’s still so much fun to play,” he says.
Nicole’s favorite game is Ms. Pac Man, also from the 80s. “There was one in the movie theatre where I grew up. Playing it again brings back so many great memories. It’s still a challenging game and I’m definitely not the best!” she comments.
Captain America and the Avengers from the early 90s is Jax’s favorite. He includes, “I like it because I love taking down villains and playing with some of the most popular heroes in the world.”
And Lily cites California Speed from the late 90s as her favorite. “I love driving games and I want to beat all the other drivers!” she says.
Part of the fun in opening a retro arcade business is planning. The adults have loved being able to work as a family of four to come up with ideas, set things up, and create a vision. For the kids being able to test games has been memorable. They’ve been tasked with “quality control” testing every game for its “fun level”.
A challenging part of the process has been finding games and making sure they’re in good working condition for customers. “Most of these games are 30-40 years old so they need a lot of maintenance because they use old technology like tube TVs,” explains Carl.
Open for Business
Retro Electric Arcade is an admission or free play arcade. The games are set to “free play” so there’s no need for coins or tokens to play. Customers will pay a flat admission fee to enter the arcade area. A wristband will be used, allowing customers access for a full day. A wristband is $12 with kids 5 and under free with a paid adult admission. Kids 12 and under must be accompanied by an adult. Read Retro Electric’s about page for more information regarding their policies. Customers are also able to come in and shop for food and merchandise without having to pay for the arcade area.
Stop by 2163 W. Main Street to visit. The business opened on December 22. Below are the hours of operation:
Dec. 23: 12pm-9pm
Dec. 24 & 25: CLOSED
Dec. 26: 12pm-6pm
Dec. 27–Jan. 1: Noon-9pm
Jan. 2: 12pm-6pm
Normal Hours beginning January 3
Monday & Tuesday: Closed
Photos courtesy of Retro Electric Arcade and used with permission.