Rusty Quarters' donation drive raises $3,000, keeps arcade alive
A month ago, Rusty Quarters was on life support. Thanks to $3,000 worth of donations, the retro arcade is again alive and kickin'.
On May 13, Annie and Sage Spirtos -- the wife and husband owners and operators of Lyn-Lake's Rusty Quarters Retro Arcade -- sent out a plea. Their small business was on the brink of death.
In a remarkably frank Facebook post, Sage and Annie wrote that "the way things are going, Rusty Quarters might have [to] shut our doors forever," adding that a recent "drastic decline in attendance" meant that "if business doesn't pick up soon for Rusty Quarters, we will have to close our doors June 1st."
The plea paid more dividends than Annie and Sage ever could've imagined -- 3,008 of them to be exact. Thanks to the remarkable generosity of supporters, Rusty Quarters won't be going the way of the dinosaur anytime soon.
Annie said the need for a cash influx was largely due to back rent she and Sage owed from the three months before Rusty Quarters opened last winter. The couple had previously run Puff n' Stuff Gifts and Novelties out of the 818 W. Lake St. property only to see that business fail last fall, but decided to open an old-school arcade in the same building shortly thereafter.
"We had no revenue during those months," Annie told the City Pages, adding that the debt, coupled with a decline in attendance, was "affecting our ability to pay rent on the space."
In the wake of their Facebook plea, the couple heard from many outstate and out-of-state fans who wanted to support the retro-arcade cause but weren't able to travel to Lyn-Lake to patronize Rusty Quarters. So Annie and Sage set up a 'donation' button on their webpage, and just 21 days later, the at-one-time life-threatening debt problem is now under control.
Annie said she and Sage no longer need donations to stay afloat, but will keep the 'donation' button on their webpage nonetheless. Supporters have asked them to, and besides, "I'm not going to shoo away free money if somebody wants to contribute to our cause," Annie said.
But in addition to the donations, business has picked up. Those factors, combined with the price for games rising from 25 cents to 50 cents, "has put us back in the black," Annie said. And in terms of the long-term viability of the retro arcade, the increase of gamers regularly coming to the retro arcade to chase high scores is the most important thing.
"Lots of people love Rusty Quarters, but if they don't play, we can't exist," Annie said.
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