YESTERCADES

Red Bank, NJ

Yestercades is an incredible arcade in Red Bank for people of all ages. It is great for the community and environment in how all the games are recycled. Yestercades makes many games from the 80s playable and even has space to play newer games like Xbox and PlayStation. In that way, it is the perfect embodiment of a place that is both wonderful for the community and for the environment.

I had the pleasure of speaking with the owner of Yestercades, Ken. He gave some exclusive insight into his business just for us here at Coastal NJ Small Business.

The Beginning

Ken grew up in a small family pharmacy. While his original career was a job in sales, he started Yestercades in 2008 when the nation was facing tough financial times. He wanted to provide affordable family entertainment to allow people of all ages to escape to a time when they were carefree.

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On The Games

Ken tries to keep his machines as original as possible so that they have the same feel playing them in 2016 as they did in 1983. In that way, these machines work to transport players to a simpler time. Young people can see what it was like to be a kid in the 80s while those who grew up in the 80s can remember those days.

Ken said, “I’m in my 30s, and if I zone out to play Donkey Kong for an hour I forget the stress and responsibilities of bills, staffing…all those adult responsibilities. I’m taken back to carefree time when my biggest worry was if I had a zit.”

This is also important for the environment. When a machine is reconditioned, that is less waste and a great way to recycle.

IMG_3424[1]The Challenge of these Machines

Maintaining these machines so that they run the way they used to presents a challenge for Ken, though, because there is no arcade store.

“It’s not like ‘I need a box of nails, let me go to Lowes” Ken explained. For that reason, he has to special order everything and hope that someone makes it a hobby. Ken said, “We do our best to keep everything as original as possible.”

Again, this is a great example of Yestercades’ recycling. Many of these parts are original and would otherwise end up in a landfill.

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Connecting the Generations

Upon visiting Yestercades, you will see children, adults, and coIMG_3427[1]llege students all playing. Children like it for the games. There is everything from Pacman to air hockey there for them. Adults enjoy it for the nostalgia. All the games from the 80s remind them of their great times playing them. Teens and twenty-somethings enjoy it for the ‘cool atmosphere’ and fun games, of course. Everyone loves the games.

“It’s very cross generational. You’ll see a dad and son playing Simpsons or Track & Field and then playing Xbox together on couch, when normally, the dad would have never played Xbox,” Ken said.

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The Future of Yestercades

Ken has opened new location in Somerville, after being in Red Bank for five years. He said that he has seen how businesses evolve, even since he first opened. He does his best to keep prices the same as when he opened to provide the same inexpensive family fun atmosphere that he started Yestercades for.

Ken’s Message for Small Businesses

Ken tells all his employees, “It doesn’t matter if there are two people or 100 in the arcade. You have to pay the same attention to everyone.”  That is why we love small businesses: you get the care and service that you couldn’t get anywhere else, and you make real community connections.

Visit Yestercades!

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REVERE PICTURE FRAMING

When you drive by Revere Picture Framing on Route 35, the first thing you will notice are some nice big “Shop Small” letters on the side of the shop. It is this attention to shopping small that attracted me to this shop.

I interviewed George, owner of Revere Picture Framing about his store and shopping small. I learned that George has a wonderful personality that keeps his customers coming back and helps to encourage the shopping small community mindset.

 The Beginning of Revere Picture Framing

George has been in business for eleven years. During this time, he has had three locations, including one on Main Street in the Atlantic Highlands.

The shop came from George’s background in graphic design. He had great jobs and even worked for city ad agencies in Los Vegas. When he saw too many people getting fired, he decided to start his own business to take control of his own situation. However, he started his business right when the recession hit. He says he struggled but survived and is proud to say that last year was his best in business.

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Around the Corner

George lives right around the corner from his store. He likes mom & pop shops in the community.

“Quaint little shops and service make neighborhood special,” George said. That is why he is sure he gives individualized attention to each customer. He says the word ‘no’ doesn’t exist in his shop. Even if he can’t help, he will find someone who can. That is what makes his, and most mom & pop shops special.

“It’s important to support community, because you spend money with me, and I support other programs in the community.”

While small businesses are environmentally friendly in themselves through their promotion of local production and less carbon emissions from local travel, George does extra for the community. He throws away very little.

Scraps of map board and leftovers from main projects get turned into gifts and giveaways at trade/craft shows as promotions. He uses these instead of business cards. As a plus, people remember his business. Instead of material that would end up in landfills, they are repurposed and enjoyed.

BACK ON THE RACKS

Longbranch, NJ 

I had the pleasure of interviewing Christine, owner of Back on the Racks.

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Morissa: Tell me about your career path and what led you to become a small business owner in the coastal community.

Christine: I grew up at the Jersey Shore, my family moved from Brooklyn to New Jersey when I was in the 2nd grade.   When I was a kid my mother would take us to this consignment store in Fair Haven called The Attic. It was a fun experience to sort through the racks of one of a kind items, things you couldn’t find at the mall. It just always stuck in my head, that I’d love to one day own a consignment store.  Once I began working I started out in retail but have done many different jobs.

It was my last couple of jobs that pushed me to pursue my dream. I experienced working for a company that went out of business. It felt awful to not have any control over what happened. I was approaching my 50’s and felt like if I didn’t pursue my dream now it would never happen. So, I decided that I’d roll the dice and take a chance to become a business owner by opening my own consignment store.

Naturally, I drove around Monmouth County to find the perfect location to open my consignment store. That’s when I saw the sign on the door of my first store in West End. I’m still in this plaza today, but, now have 3 stores in the same plaza. I never thought it would grow to where it is today. Expanding from just women’s to now offering Furniture, Home décor and Children’s. One of my favorite bosses told me what he thought was the secret to a successful business, “hard work, timing and luck”, so true!IMG_3911

Your business is very eco-friendly by recycling clothes and furniture and repurposing them.  What can other members of the community do to ‘stay green’?

One person’s trash is definitely, another person’s treasure. At Back on the Racks we enjoy educating our customer’s on how they can consign items they no longer want or need and make some money too. I would encourage everyone to think before you throw away a shirt that they no longer like or put some furniture out to the curb. Someone else may want to wear or use it.

What is your personal philosophy on being a successful small business owner?

I think as a small business owner you need to keep your eye on everything in the business, but also be able to let go some of the control so that you aren’t working in the business but working on the business.IMG_3912

 Why should Monmouth University students and other young people especially ‘shop small?’

Small businesses directly impact the community, because we purchase from other small local businesses for lunch, insurance, printing, cleaning, repairs, and the list goes on and on. I don’t think that big companies like Walmart are having their printing done at a local Mom and Pop company.

Who has inspired/inspires you?

I try to surround myself with people that inspire me daily. But, I’d say the person that gave me the courage to pursue my dreams would be my father. My Dad never told me I couldn’t do it, he always would be tell me just do it and he’d even help me do it!

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Have you learned any important lessons from your experiences as a small business owner?

I’ve learned so many lessons as a small business owner. I’d say the most important one is to not let a bad situation define your future. Learn from it and move on. Also, try not take yourself too seriously, you have to be able to laugh at yourself.

How do you best connect to your customers and the coastal community?

Social media has been a great way for us to effectively engage with our customers. It’s so important as a business owner to keep up with the way your customers are getting their information.

Visit Back on the Racks’ Facebook and website.

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Is there anything else you’d like to add?

To anyone considering starting a business today I’d suggest you stalk the business you want to start and try to do a better job at it. Because as they say, ‘if you are doing something that you enjoy, you never work a day in your life.’  But I’ve also been told that I mess up every quote, so don’t quote me on this one.

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