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Saving Pinball Pete's: Customers raising funds for MSU, UM arcade impacted by pandemic

Posted at 10:40 AM, Dec 29, 2020
and last updated 2020-12-29 10:40:51-05

ANN ARBOR, Mich- (WXYZ) — One step into Pinball Pete’s arcade is like a step back in time and a walk down memory lane for decades of Spartans and Wolverines.

“It's difficult for me to talk to anyone who’s been on either of those campuses and find someone who doesn't know about it or hasn't had an experience there,” said Nick Reynolds, whose father has been a co-owner of the arcade for more than 40 years.

Even as other mom and pop arcades closed down, their family business has become a campus icon in Ann Arbor and East Lansing, but even that is no match for a global pandemic.

“It's very difficult to ask any small business with multiple locations in a downtown city area and college towns especially, to be able to close their doors for eight months and still pay their bills,” Reynolds said.

Michigan arcades like Pinball Pete’s were forced to close throughout most of the pandemic. They've only briefly opened up in empty college towns. In a last-ditch effort to save their business, a GoFundMe page was launched.

“It was either start asking for help or close doors," Reynolds said. "And that wasn’t something we wanted to do.”

In a matter of hours, donations poured in. Within two days, the site raised more than $50,000. Customers are sharing funds and sharing memories.

“We saw someone who said they proposed to their wife next to the Tetris machine because it was their favorite game," Reynolds said.

From first dates to post-finals celebrations, everyone had a story to share. Whether a donation of $5 dollars or more than $1,000, the memories attached to each donation are priceless. Proving in the end a global pandemic is no match against a community coming together.

“I talked to my dad and said you touch people’s lives every day," Reynolds said. "Your business is an entertainment business, but it’s about creating memories with family and friends and relationships. People don’t forget things like that”

You can find the Gofundme page here: