What’s special about your business and what it brings to the Fort Collins community?
My first thought about this is what I started to notice from when I first opened. How the games transcend or bring together so many different people. People with different backgrounds, from different generations and interests. It’s a place where I have interactions that I wouldn’t have had the opportunity, or the thought to have anywhere else. It has definitely struck me before that some of the people I’ve met and spoken or even interact with regularly now happened only because of Pinball Jones, no other reason why we would have met. No other reason why we would have connected. Yet, it happens over the love, interest or nostalgia of games and we find a way to share ourselves there.
Why do you think it’s important to have spaces in our community where people feel like family and people feel safe, regardless of identity.
Tough thoughtful questions. When I see and feel others having the experience of a safe space that’s when I believe I am most aware of its value. People interacting, being themselves. It’s important for all to feel like you belong, that you are able to identify as you are and a safe space provides that. I want to think that most places can and should be that. Yet to understand that means different things to people.
How do you see your experience as a business owner and a member of the LGBTQIA+ community as different from business owners who are not part of the LGBTQIA+ community?
I think that because of my being a part of the community I have had more opportunity to be involved as a business. Possibly I was recognized as a safe space or as a friendly space already just because I am a part of the community already. I’ve been able to broaden my awareness and participation in a variety of ways because the community reached out to me. If I hadn’t been a business owner, I know I wouldn’t have had the types of interactions I did especially with families and individuals within the LGBTQIA+ community as it is today or has been over the past 10 years.
What other Fort Collins businesses have you been excited to support during Pride Month?
I’ve been happy to support many businesses that are reopening and go figure they are mostly food related. The farmers market, Butterfly Cafe, Little on Mountain, Little Bird, Moe’s, Food Coop and Coffee beans of many different types of local roasters. I can’t say that I concentrate my efforts as I am a creature of habit especially now during COVID. My support of businesses prior to this was much different. Last year’s Pride looked much different as well. It will be nice to be able to get out and support more businesses as they open and recover.
What has your experience been like throughout COVID? What kind of support have you received, and what was missing?
I feel it’s still going on. It’s so hard to answer as it impacts so much and is still a factor in our daily lives and our futures. Trying to figure things out, trying to make decisions. Not knowing what was going to happen or for how long and now re-opening and not knowing how things are going to be. As a business owner I think most of us try to make good sound decisions and use our experience, knowledge and resources to make those decisions. COVID just kept unfolding in an unknown way. As far as what support I’ve received, you know there’s been a huge support from people of this community. People who love Pinball Jones and want it to survive through the COVID have been amazing and surprising. My local landlord at Campus West location has been outstanding just there ready to communicate and help all the way through to the other side, wherever that might be. There was also great support from the City Clerk with Liquor License related information, and with Larimer County getting the variance for businesses to reopen. I also utilized the Larimer Small Business Development Center. The thing I feel I needed the most, no one had, a crystal ball to know what was coming and how it was going to be addressed.
In an ideal world, what would you like from the City to help you recover and thrive in Fort Collins?
Ideally in regards to COVID it would be helpful to have better communication of recovery plans, closure plans and opening plans. I believe that having a plan that allows flexibility is the best thing and I think that did happen here because of the variance. Rent rates in Fort Collins have been high both residential and commercial for a long time. Covid really exposed to me what a gem it is to have a local investor, who owns the property and lives in fort collins as a landlord. Large real estate companies that just invest in Fort Collins for the return on their investment I believe aren’t a part of the community in the same way. They don’t live here, they just invest here. Fort Collins is a wonderful place and I know it will continue to be. I’m also hopeful changes will occur, positive long term changes from these times. The thriving and recovery will happen best by supporting the things that make Fort Collins a great place to live. That is the best I can answer this question for now!
In an ideal world unrelated to COVID…finding a balance within the community of large corporations and locally owned businesses and/or small businesses. People who call the City of Fort Collins home will really have an investment in the people they employ.
Can you tell us about what draws you to arcade games and culture, specifically pinball?
Well, truth be told I had a lure to games of all kinds, bowling, game boards, cards all from childhood. Electronic games of sorts or coin operated games I first encountered in the late 60’s. On visits to my grandmothers we would find ourselves in a very small town where my uncles sometimes “played music” (sounds too official to say performed) at the one and only bar in town, so on occasion we would go early and watch. This bar had an old coin operated bowler, I was in love! I spent all the change that they brought in their pockets. My first experience with Pinball came about in college. I worked at an arcade called Aladdin’s Castle in the mall. It was 1982 and the brand new pinball machines were at this arcade: Gottlieb’s Black Hole and Bally Black Knight. I ruled the top score on those machines and on the centipede off and on with other players depending on the week. Pinball was definitely my favorite game ever and I had never experienced anything quite like it.