For the many stories we’ve run this year about new arcades opening their doors, one would hope that hearing of a closure had a fat chance of happening. Unfortunately as small business goes, most do fail within the first five years no matter what area you find yourself in. Arcades in particular have a huge uphill battle – aside from culturally where the masses believe none exist anymore except for in private collections, rent rates can be huge, just like the price on machines, where one machine can be a few months worth of rent just by itself. Not to mention all of the other expenses you find having to cover. That is the nature of the beast and I don’t think it is something to be ashamed of as you took it beyond the “dream” stage where most ideas sit idling in.
The closure is happening to South Town Arcade, which is in San Fransisco, CA. We reported the opening of this one only at the end of May last year, so they had a run of about a year and a half and in that time managed a lot of tournaments and gave players a great place to relax in. But as their website states, that was not enough:
Due to a number of circumstances, Southtown Arcade’s last day of operation at its current location will be Sunday, November 25th, 2012. We’re really sorry for the sudden nature of this announcement, but we were hoping that we would be able to resolve a number of outstanding issues in order to continue normal business operations, and, unfortunately, our optimism did not bear fruit.
Between our lease expiring at the end of the year, increased demands on our time from work and home (we have families and/or full-time jobs outside of STA!), and increased demands on our time to grow the business and maintain day-to-day operations at the Arcade, we’ve decided that the best thing for us to do is cease operation of STA at this time.
Are we going to come back? Never say never; we’d love to continue doing what we’re doing, but, as it stands now, we’re in no position to do so, given the circumstances we find ourselves in.
I can relate to their troubles of having to work another job while doing this. Running an arcade is what we want to be doing but we end up putting whatever little amounts we could take for ourselves back into the business so it can thrive. This is not a practice exclusive to arcades, I know of many small business owners who have to do something else on the side to make things work but it is a very difficult and stressful way to go about life, especially when you have a family to support and take care of. They can be extraordinarily patient but patience can run out when you have consecutive months of little progress or decline. This of course is a lesson for all perspective business owners – it is very easy to believe when you are doing the business plan that things will be a much larger success than reality will dictate. I fell into that trap – when I look at my first business plan my guesstimate earnings were off by a vast number and I thought I was being conservative with the numbers then. Of course they were just guesses based upon the best info I had at the time but they were still too rosy. I don’t say any of this to discourage anyone looking to start a new business, just make sure you and anyone close to you is prepared mentally for the challenge over the long haul. You have to be willing to take these risks but you also need to know when to cut your losses and close up shop. That is a very difficult decision to make but in some instances, like with South Town, there are reasons when it has to be made.
Anyways, I am getting off track here. Here’s hoping that the owners will manage to make a come back in the near future. It can happen if circumstances are right, perhaps they will manage to find a new location that does better or will be able to house more games than before. Who knows. I’m sorry to see them go but wish those involved the best of luck in the endeavors they make from here on out.