The Retro Room Gaming Lounge and Boutique is a marriage of the things its husband-and-wife owners love most — retro video games and handmade goodies.
The first thing customers see when they walk into the new 1,500-square-foot shop at 337 E. Fort Lowell Road is a boutique stocked with dresses, jewelry and aprons made by co-owner Michelle Hall, and a snack bar with 50-cent bags of chips, among other treats. The lounge is an alcohol-free zone but has “lots of caffeine.”
A walk through the curtain to the back of the building brings a different scene. The walls are covered with 14 televisions, each hooked up to at least two retro game systems. The gaming lounge has more than 20 of them — from Atari to Nintendo to Sega Genesis, and more than 500 games to play on them. Two arcade style games flank the west corner.
A sewing space for Michelle Hall sits behind the pay counter between the boutique and game lounge.
Cushy couches and an oversized beanbag provide comfortable places for gameplay. A long table sits in the middle of the room, providing a space to play board games. “We’re trying to build a place that we want to be in,” she said. “We made it comfy.”
The couple both previously worked as managers in medical offices and wanted to do something different. “It’s a hybrid of stuff he loves with what I love,” Michelle Hall said. “I like games, too. I’m just not good at them.”
A large percentage of the game library and some of the consoles came from Chris Hall’s personal collection. The rest came from Facebook sale groups, Craigslist and the like.
Customers pay a flat rate of $5 to play up to four hours of games Mondays through Thursdays. The price changes on busier days to $5 for an hour of game play. The price includes the two arcade-style games, which are set to free play rather than requiring quarters.
The Halls chose the location on Fort Lowell, east of Stone, to give kids in the area something to keep them out of trouble. “We’re looking to fill a niche,” said Chris Hall. “This area is underserved for stuff to do for kids.”
The Retro Room hosts video-game tournaments and plans to host board-game tournaments. And it’s open to suggestions on games and tournaments. “If someone is looking for a place to host a tournament, we can host here,” Chris Hall said.
Michelle Hall takes suggestions in the boutique as well, providing custom designs for her patrons. She is hoping to add cosplay costumes to her repertoire. (Cosplay, short for costume play, is a trendy form of role-playing performance art.)
“We just want people to come and relax, make friends and have a good time,” Chris Hall said.