Joshua Lopez was up “bright and early” on May 1 — that was the day he opened his dream business on the corner of Walnut Avenue and Pine Street.
He calls it “Lo’s Arcade Mania” and more than 3,400 people walked in the first day.
“For 37 days straight, I worked 21 hours a day,” Lopez said. “I went home, I showered, I ate, I slept, and then I got back in here. It was grind mode or fail mode, and I’m not failing at this.”
Lopez’s business is now split between two passions, first “Toys from Lo” which features the video games, merchandising and gaming systems on one half of the space and the arcade on the other.
“I love arcades. My man cave was getting overwhelmed with them,” Lopez said. “Every kid who has been in an arcade has had the same thought as they walked in: ‘I wish this were mine!’ ”
“Now I’m that 42-year-old kid, and this is mine!”
Lopez said that he didn’t even look for any grants or funding to open the new space, formerly a retail clothes store, because he wanted to prove that he could do it on his own.
“I spent my own money,” he said. “No PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) no grants, no loans, no financial aid. I got nothing. I didn’t want to. I don’t want anybody ever say, ‘He wouldn’t have this if it wasn’t for this person handing him something.’ Nobody did this for me. I grinded for three years in a closet-size store and did everything I could over there! I’ve moved from a closet to a mansion. I’m ready to ‘Rawr!’ ”
Games include pinball machines, pool and air hockey, classic Mario games, and a shoot-up Halo edition that adapts to the player’s character profile at home on their own systems.
“It’s the only one in Western New York,” he said.
More than any money that might be made – it cost a quarter-million dollars to move the entire store – Lopez wants the arcade to help people revisit their childhood, as well as harbor the youth who are now in the same city streets he’d been running around on at their age.
“I’m not here for the money,” he said. “I’m here for the people. … Saturday night at 11 oclock there were 11 kids in here playing pool. Had to be between 16 and 12 years old. Now these are kids that at any other time, where would they be at 11 o’clock at night? Not at home and not in here, right? Because there’s nothing for kids here. They’d be out in the streets and getting into trouble, because idle hands are the devil’s tools.”
Lopez isn’t religious, but he is a moral person. He talked about integrity, role-modeling, and being in a position to help others.
“A man’s word is a man’s word, your integrity is the same when you’re present and is the same as when you’re away," he said. "When no one is looking at you, you should be the same man as you are in public.”
“I learned that in prison,” Lopez said. “A correction officer told me that, and I never understood what that really meant, and I asked him, ‘What do you mean?’ and he told me.”
“Lo’s Arcade Mania” is cleaned and sanitized throughout the day. It’s independently owned, and that means something to Lopez, as well. Most importantly it’s going to bring revenue to Lockport as a whole, Lopez said.
“I am the very first independently owned and operated arcade in Lockport history,” he said. “Lockport history books were opened on that first day on May 1 when I opened, but I feel like people should let the community know, real estate agents and all that. This is going to bring revenue to Lockport. Tourists are going to come, the restaurants are going to benefit. People are going to come to the already existing businesses. There’s open spaces all here. Because of this people are going to see how much is here. Businesses are going to want to be here. They’re going to want to move to Lockport, New York.”