Pride and Joystick

Rusty Quarters revives the classic video arcade, 25¢ at a time.

Martina Marosi

The small storefront on Bryant -Lake, wedged between the eponymous bowling alley and Jackson’s Coffee and Gelator, is now home to its third business since Uptown Video closed at the location in 2008. The revolving door of tenants has given the spot a reputation as a brick and mortar tomb for fledgling businesses.

But while the awning may have changed, the owners haven’t. In fact, Rusty Quarters is California transplants Sage and Annie Spirtos’ latest installment to their holy trinity of Gen X nostalgia-bound business endeavors. This time, they think Rusty Quarters has what it takes to stick around.

Rusty Quarters is the SpirtosâÄô spin on the classic video arcade âÄî Ms. Pac-Man included âÄî that rises out of the ashes of its fallen business brethren Double Danger Comics & Collectibles and Puff N’ Stuff Gifts and Novelty.

âÄúI’m not exaggerating. We get about 20 emails a day asking when we’re going to be open,âÄù Sage said.

The husband and wife moved to Minneapolis in Aug. 2009 and opened Double Danger a month later. When a business partner decided to pull out of the business in Jan. 2011, they liquidated everything and opened âÄúPuff N’ StuffâÄù that May, which closed in September.

âÄúWhen the State Fair hit, our business just stalled. For two weeks we just had hardly any business,âÄù Sage said.

This month they will throw open their doors to their new arcade and museum that kept the hardwood floors and bright cerulean walls from Puff N’ Stuff. The arcade’s sunny interior contrasts the dingy industrial-weave carpet, neon lights and perpetual midnight scene, which characterize the labyrinthine video arcades that populate collective memory.

âÄúThere’s a history with these machines. There’s a nostalgia,âÄù Sage said.

The Spirtoses plan to flesh out their arcade with a total of 35 to 40 games. They currently offer perennial favorites Q*bert, Centipede, Galaga, Frogger, two Donkey Kong games along with Donkey Kong Jr., among a swath of others. The couple purposely placed the Donkey Kong games next to one another, so DK junior and senior fans alike can strike up a conversation. Rampage, a game where players are giant King Kong and Godzilla-inspired beasts who attempt to destroy a city while under attack by the army, is a high-energy multiplayer game that has been intentionally placed toward the front door.

âÄúWe’re trying to make it into more of a social interaction center than anything else,âÄù Sage said.

Sage and Annie Spirtos will run a business for the price of one gumball at a time. Though they hit a couple spots of bad luck with Double Danger and Puff N’ Stuff, the couple is optimistic that Rusty Quarters will push all the right buttons.

âÄúThird time’s a charm,âÄù Annie said.