Jesse Baker of Arcade Legacy
preserves the nostalgic bliss that is the video arcade. With more than 68 gaming cabinets and a flourishing retail section where gamers can buy and sell retro gaming gear and DVDs, the business' founder, Jesse Baker, has a high score in awesome points.
How did you start your business?
My best friend since sixth grade and I just decided that we wanted to open an arcade. This wasn't a lifelong dream or anything. He was fighting overseas for three years, and all the while, I was home buying up all the arcade machines I could get my hands on. Once we had enough machines, we found a place and that was that.
How did you come up with the idea for your business?
It was just an idea we had out of the blue. There were no arcades around and we wanted to change that because we used to hang out at the arcades nearly every weekend. I'm sure that helped our decision.
What Cincinnati resources did you take advantage of and how did they help?
We actually had no help. No one thought it was a good idea, as arcades had died off for the most part. We used all our own time and money and made it happen. There were no grants or loans available. The rent was too high. Not a great location. But I persevered and it paid off.
How is Cincinnati a unique city for entrepreneurs?
I've never operated a business in any other city, so I really don't know. I have read that it is the #1 place for small business owners. Possibly because the people here are more open to new things and will support the unique things they love.
What would you do differently if you started your business again?
There's not much that could have been done differently, unless we had a ton of money. We did everything we could with what we had at our disposal. It wasn't a great success at first, but I stuck with it and it formed into what it is now. It is still evolving, so expect even better things to come.
What’s next for you and your company?
There's a good chance we will be expanding later this year into a bigger spot in the mall and adding new elements to the business, such as a LAN center. I've courted the idea of opening a second location, but have not had the time to even get into the planning process yet.
Interview by Sean Peters