It may not be game over for Pinball Pete's arcade, thanks to a recent crowdfunding campaign to save the legacy business.
Pinball Pete's, which operates two locations in Ann Arbor and East Lansing, has been serving the community with wall-to-wall games for more than 40 years. Due to the pandemic and on-again, off-again closures per statewide mandates, the arcade's owners decided to turn to crowdfunding — with heavy hearts — to avoid the fate assigned to the recent reboot attempt of once-beloved pizza arcade, Major Magic's
, which shuttered in November.
“Though times are always changing and trends come and go, arcades are an important part of history and culture in our world and we have always done our best to adapt to change in order to keep the passion for arcades alive,” the arcade's GoFundMe
“We are now asking for help from the friends, families, and communities that have helped to shape what Pinball Pete's is today,” the owners write. “I still love to hear the stories of first dates, exciting birthdays, or late college nights spent in Pinball Pete's, and we can only hope that those traditions and special days continue to be shared under our roof.”
Since launching the crowdfunding effort on Dec. 25, the campaign has raised more than $90,000 of its $125,000 goal. The funds, which will be used for rent, bills, and other expenses that have added up, will support both locations as the company continues to navigate the pandemic and the mounting costs of having been closed most of last year, leaving many customers and fans feeling nostalgic.
“This is my second donation to Pete’s,” John Fitzgerald, who donated $100 to save Pete's wrote. “It was an important part of my high school years and I recently came back to visit EL and spent hours and lots of quarters at Pete’s bringing back old memories. Thank you to everyone for helping save this important business.”
John Schmidt, a former U-M student and a current faculty member, donated $200. He cites Pete's as being an “escape” through the years.
“Looking through the comments, I am not alone — its impact has spanned generations. Like any other cultural institution, it should be protected,” he wrote.
Other donors, like Missy Dennis, who dropped a whopping $500 (or $1,000 rounds of .50 cent pinball), echoed the sentiments shared with many people eager to save Pete's: “A lot of my happiest memories are from here.”
As part of the campaign, the arcade is offering T-shirts for various tiers of donations, including a limited edition shirt that reads “I Saved Pinball Pete's” for those gamers who donate more than $200.
Of course, Pinball Pete's is not the only metro Detroit arcade to turn to GoFundMe for some financial assistance. In August, Marvin's Marvelous Mechanical Museum
in Farmington Hills launched a similar campaign with an initial goal of $75,000. After reaching the goal, the owners updated the GoFundMe page
and increased the amount to $125,000 to, hopefully, avoid having to sell off any games or memorabilia so that “Marvin's will remain as Marvelous as you remember.” Currently, they have raised just over $82,000 — $43,000 shy of their new goal.
“But no matter what, we are not closing!” the campaign reads.
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