Collector closer to opening classic arcade in Monroe

MONROE — David Shoemaker closed a deal last week that puts him one step closer to bringing his nostalgic business to Monroe.

The Microsoft developer plans to open a vintage arcade, cafe and video game repair shop in the old Eddie’s Trackside building downtown.

Shoemaker secured the purchase of the 5,000-square-foot space. He already has moved a dozen games from his collection of about 200 into the new digs.

He has seven cargo containers full of the relics, dating from the 1970s through 1990s, waiting outside his Monroe-area home. Many more games are jammed into storage.

Shoemaker’s crew already has renovations under way on the building. He plans to let the former owners remove a distinctive mural behind the bar, but the outside mural is slated to be replaced with a Pac Man painting.

Shoemaker has received a permit from the city that will allow him to operate the family-entertainment business.

The 47-year-old has long wanted to open a place for people to play his collectibles.

“I see these as pieces of art,” he said. “I’m into things that are rare, unusual or striking.”

His collection boasts classics, such as “Pac Man,” “Joust,” “Defender ,” “Donkey Kong.” Shoemaker has the original “Asteroids” and “Atari’s I, Robot,” the first commercial 3D game.

There’s more modern driving games, such as “Cruis’n USA” and fighters, such as “Mortal Kombat.”

Shoemaker plans to rotate 75 games into the arcade at a time. He also wants to cycle his 17 pinball machines through.

“I’ll have anything you can drop a quarter into,” he said.

He envisions having kids games, including “Spider Stomp,”which is similar to “Whac-A-Mole” but played by stepping on the spiders.

Shoemaker is preparing an area for cards, board games, puzzles and Legos.

“I’m an avid collector of anything that interests me,” he said. “I’ll have anything that strikes my fancy.”

Shoemaker plans to have a membership club that includes unlimited play for around $20 a month. He hopes to host arcade tournaments and school fundraisers.

To go along with the entertainment, he wants to serve pizzas, fried food and milkshakes.

Shoemaker plans to move the game repair business he operates out of his den into the arcade. He’ll also sell parts for those who prefer to do their own fixing.

The Bremerton native’s interest in gaming was sparked at age 13 when his school got an Atari computer.

“I was there when the janitors came and when they left every day making games,” he said. “That was the first time I got to see the inside of the computer, which started the craziness.”

By the time he was 19, Shoemaker had a $20-a-day gaming habit. That’s when a play cost a quarter.

His collection started 25 years ago when he bought his then-girlfriend “Gyruss,”a shooting game released in 1983, for her birthday. He continued accumulating until he got kicked out of his apartment because his garage was overflowing.

That girlfriend, now his wife, Michelle Shoemaker, plans to run the old-fashioned arcade while he develops new technology at Microsoft.

The couple is raising two daughters, 7 and 10. Shoemaker said his girls have been planning to open an art and music store in his house. He wanted to do them one better with the arcade and possibly teach them about running a business along the way.

“It’s family-friendly,” he said. “That’s the crowd I want to target.”

Shoemaker hopes to open the arcade by the end of April.

Amy Nile: 425-339-3192; anile@heraldnet.com.

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