Andy Palmer, the man behind Arcade Club, is having the time of his life. He feels like he has been given a second chance, a chance to do something he absolutely loves, day in, day out. “It keeps me alive,” he says of the arcade chain he started in 2015 with its mix of beloved retro machines and cutting-edge games. “It’s actually given me a reason to live again. Because I’m 48 this year, which is tragically near 50, and when you get to your forties and you think you’ve not done as much in your life as you would like to, or you think you should have done, everyone starts getting a bit cynical and a bit down. So this has really given me a shot in the arm in a big, big way.”
Andy previously ran a chain of four computer-repair shops in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire. But around 2013, business had slowed dramatically, partly because people were ditching their computers for tablets and smartphones. “All you tended to get were people in their 50s, 60s and 70s bringing the same old Vista machines back,” he says. “It just turned into a reinstall of Windows every single day.”
The dwindling business caused Andy to question what he was doing with his life. “You do start to feel like, ‘what’s next?’,” he says. “You’ve only got so many options when you hit your forties.” And that was the point when he hit on the idea of putting some of his beloved arcade machines in the shop for people to play.