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Written On 12th September 2021
Summer 2021 was greatly received and a truly buzzing experience. Whilst many of us had the COVID Jab, the arcades got the most vital shot in the arm too, which for five and a half months had not been seen in Bognor, and Tonbridge and Chatham arcades hadn't seen anyone since way back in November 2020! Maidstone still to this day has not re-opened since March 2020.
Working like Trojans, Bognor has been the glue that has held the arcades together, kept our classic dream alive and given us hope and plans for the future.
We have had many problems behind the scenes like many in the UK with regards to staff, recruiting and people not returning to work. There is little point licking wounds and crying over what was or what has been taken away from you, we have regrouped the remaining people of the team and set out our plans forward.
Having the cruelest things done to you can make you rejig, reset and evaluate what is around you, what your core values are and how you can ensure you get on with the show, and that is what we are going to do.
In no particular order we will be changing a few things in the Kent arcades, reshaping what is there in each of them, and begin reshaping the portfolio of games on offer. We have warehouses full to the brim of classic machines, so I am marveled why so many of our top games are not out there on display for all to enjoy. It is now time to roll out the barrel, which is not to be confused with pressing the red button our onlookers like to ridicule, but to restart the engines, ramp up the arcades to a whole new level.
For Kent to work in the way we want it to, and the way it should and need to, will involve certain things and criteria to be met. When your running the older machines they need work and servicing quite often to ensure their reliability and gameplay without issues. So Kent needs me more, and that is vital to being a support network to keeping the arcades fresh and vibrant.
It has not necessarily been possible for me to head to Kent due to many factors, these are not excuses but reasons. I have heard some may think that Kent is not of importance to us now that Bognor is established. We must all remember that Kent we built from nothing, and in our lifetimes it will never return to nothing, we will ensure reel by reel that we will make Kent the force that it once was.
I personally have made mistakes with staff we have taken on, some I miss, some were a disaster and some just didn't 'fuse' like both parties thought they might. Nothing in the arcade world is as easy as it looks, not for any arcade out there to be honest. Throw in a load of old machines and repairs and your definitely not going to be seeing much downtime.
When I look back on the journey my oh my its been a tough one. As I write this I have the most incredible 'smashed classic trance' on the TV blasting out some classic Clubland tracks from years gone by. The years most certainly do go by, and I think you do learn more as they pass, but we know more than we did yesterday but less than we will tomorrow.
Something very disturbing and cruel happened in our 'working life' this week, and although it was harrowing for the time it shook us into 'power mode'. We are good honest decent people and over the last few months especially have put up with some sour apples, but now they are gone and we feel liberated in truth.
We have always encouraged player feedback, accepted critique and also looked hard at the presentation of what we do. We have a fantastic reputation, unrivaled percentage payouts and the best and rarest classics in great condition. It has taken a lifetime to create what we have today, but it seems frustrating that so many machines are not showcased when they should be.
So, the plan is this
This is the smallest of our arcades, its in the centre of the high street and was an arcade I used to frequently play in myself 22 years ago until taking it over in 2016. Tonbridge will receive classic club machines, JPM's, £10-£15 era of barcrest and some other rarities. We will anchor in some machines to ensure they stay in the arcade as a backbone, but this arcade will likely have its full line up of legendary machines within a couple of weeks.
Recently we played around with some classic hi tech machines, increased them so there was more on offer for fans of certain genres of games and manufacturers. It is time to roll out some classics in there in a good volume. Already we have a LOT of classic JPM/Barcrest games but there will be a huge shake up there.
Our dear Maidstone Reel Fruits.. It has been a long road, and although I can now see the signposts and very dim light through the end of the tunnel it seems a way to go. However, this arcade will always be 'the one' and I think that with the right person it will be the magnet for many. We have a massive line up for this gem of a place and my oh my we cannot wait!
We will carry on as we are, running the 'high maintenance' machines such as Maygay and 80s machines and 'trying techs' such as Epoch. We do have some belting classics but they all are part of the family mix too. With Bacta pushing incredibly hard to ensure high stake and low RTP ticket machines are enshrined and fruit machines are pushed out, we have some MEGA tough choices to make.
Frustration can often be at play, and there has been a lot of that lately behind the scenes. We had a very big thing in the background to take the world of Mr P's to the next phase, and we are pleased to see this is looking to be set. There has been so much work go into the balancing of a very rocky ride through the pandemic and many hours spent planning the road-map ahead.
So in this weeks waffle are many hidden messages, lots of information regarding what is in store for you all, and our continued core commitment to showcasing the classic games well into the future.
Kent is going to be propelled into the limelight where it belongs, and this includes Maidstone being right up there with it.
There is much work to do, with the right team, commitment, drive and above all determination we say to all you classic players...
Get ready for this
Dave, Amelia, Ruby and Scarlett xxxx