CHRISTMAS MESSAGE 2019
Taking the steps into the unknown and presented with a leap of faith are not only bewildering moments in your life but also quite daunting. Many are quite reserved with their judgment and can be deemed as cautious people, this is a quality that should be treasured, not one seen to hold you back.
Reflecting on what has been our most difficult year in history we think to ourselves about the choices we have made and the fact that throughout the decade of presenting our concept of fair, classic amusements, it has always been followed from the heart and not the head.
It would be naive to think that with our 'stack it high' sell it cheap (sometimes give it away) attitude to our arcades we would be sustainable albeit the most popular in the country. Often we think to ourselves that a low paid minimum wage job would be a better route for us financially than working intensifying hours for our 'pay as you go' lifestyle.
With the struggles of everyday and the future of the high street looking rather bleak we still have the passion and belief that we had all those years ago in Gravesend 2009.
Some of you reading this have been with us on the journey from the beginning and seen the roller coaster ride we have been on, with you guys being part of the vision and dream that we created and still have to this day.
We have had many conversations with people over the years with the plans ahead and what they entailed. From the beginning it was to trial our concept and then open up more inland arcades, each time presenting the same idea of classic machines, but with different content. This is what we did with Gravesend being the first arcade, then Maidstone (a big version of Gravesend), Gravesend 2, Tonbridge (after Gravesend withdrawal) and then Chatham. The seaside arcade was always a wish, but with the 'big boys' and the 'little old us' with our concept it was a very scary prospect to entail (although that didn't close our minds to this).
April time our great friend Barry was on holiday with his wonderful family in Bognor Regis, and spotted a large closed Amusement arcade on the seafront. Immediately my response (before even discussing with Amelia) was to get infomation on it. Shortly after looking at the marketing particulars from the estate agent we decided to go down for a viewing and see what was already around.
Once in the property we encountered a smelly, derelict and very poor condition amusement arcade that would of been nice in its day but was decimated as we saw it. This was a shame because we had high hopes and after seeing the local area thought it ticked all boxes for our idea, fairness and creativity for the seaside adventure (as it was to be dubbed in the trade press).
Amelia and I do not drive, we have carried crazy things by bus, train and buggy (lol) for years and although we need to get a driving licence, even if its between us, there just never seems to be 'time' to squeeze it in between the children and crazy arcade world. So once we had viewed the property and had the very long train ride back to Maidstone we discussed what we had just seen at Waterloo Square. Immediately before the train doors opened for our ride home I was a 'NO' and Amelia was a 'YES'. The disappointment and shock at just how awful the condition of the building inside and out was quite stark and signaled not just a 'massive project' but one of insanity, IF, we was to take it. So, on the way home it was my one desire to ensure Amelia was a 'No' as well, and eventually after a few days we came to the same decision, although we both shared big disappointment.
Normal work resumed, after all Chatham was only 6 weeks old and needed time and nurturing as any new venue requires. It was a strange time really because as exciting and vibrant our new Chatham arcade was (and certainly is today) we couldn't stop thinking just how great a seaside experience under our banner would be for so many people.
Like a drip (no not me) the body and mind started to get more and more 'Bognor Vibes' entering the bloodstream, as ridiculous as the notion may of been. So Amelia and I started talking more and the mindsets had switched, Amelia more so a No, and me heading more to a Yes. Days passed and on a routine visit to repair some machines in the arcades I headed over to Chatham and Jade picked up on me being a little 'consumed'. Pretty good 'mind reading' from Jade, seeing as she had only joined the company and met us recently. However in brief I discussed with her and asked her what her 'gut feeling' was. Her reaction was that it was crazy and a great chance to showcase how WE think it should be at the seaside. Amelia and I spoke some more, I spoke with many people in fact, so did Amelia. So we picked a very grim day and headed down, then got the 'feel' from the building and whether we could pull this HUGE risk and MASSIVE project off.