A Q&A with Pastime Pinball's Founders
When did Pastime Pinball open for business?
We opened our doors originally on Black Friday, November 29, 2019. Unfortunately we had to close a few months later when Covid-19 turned everyone's world upside down. Thankfully Vermont did a great job of mitigating the pandemic so we were able to reopen on Friday, May 29, 2020.
Are you a franchise? Do you have other locations?
Pastime Pinball isn't a franchise. We have just our one location in Manchester Center, Vermont.
Who owns Pastime Pinball? Is the owner/owners involved in the day-to-day operations?
Beth and Marty Friedman own and operate Pastime Pinball. We had always wanted to start a business together that was fun and that made visitors happy. Pinball is exactly that! We're extremely hands-on and are always greeting customers, repairing and sanitizing games and dishing out treats in the snack bar.
Why open a pinball arcade in Manchester, Vermont instead of a larger city with a bigger population?
It's true that Manchester has only a few thousand full-time residents, but it attracts tourists from all over! Stratton and Bromley Mountain, two very popular ski and hiking areas, are just a few miles up the road. And Mount Snow and Killington are within an hour's drive. Manchester is also home to Hildene, a magnificent 400 acre estate once owned by President Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln. Manchester is located in the Battenkill Valley, surrounded by mountains. It's just stunning. There's great shopping, dining and charming accommodations, but there was a huge void in the fun and games category. Basically we took a line from the movie Field of Dreams and figured "if you build it they will come."
Do you lease the games or are they from your personal collection?
We bought all of the games specifically for the business. Our personal pinball collection consisted of fun-to-play machines that weren't necessarily highly rated or in the best condition. For Pastime Pinball we set out to curate a pristine collection of the most popular games from each decade.
So where did you find the games? And how long did it take to build your collection?
Since Pastime Pinball features more than 70 years of pinball, most of our games had previous -- oftentimes multiple -- owners. We found everything else on Craigslist, FB Marketplace, Pinside, other pinball forums and word of mouth. We spent a year and a half driving around the northeast purchasing games that met our strict criteria. Sometimes we'd travel hours only to find a machine wasn't as advertised and head home empty-handed. A number of games were located across the country and had to be shipped. But that's not the end of the story. To keep our collection fresh and exciting, we are constantly buying new tables and rotating games in and out. This includes older machines from near and far as well as new in the box games direct from the manufacturer.
When you say "new in the box," you mean pinball machines are still being manufactured?
Yes! Some people are surprised to learn that pinball games never stopped being produced. In the early 2000s Stern was the only American manufacturer churning out machines. But since then pinball has experienced a resurgence in popularity and new companies have come onto the scene. Jersey Jack, American Pinball, Spooky Pinball, Multimorphic and Barrels of Fun are all producing innovative machines.
Do you ever sell your games?
Yes! While we're not a distributor (meaning you can't preorder or buy brand new games from us) we do sell machines that we've rotated out of our collection. If you're interested in purchasing one of our games, please contact us for a list of available titles.
Do pinball machines break a lot? If so, who fixes them?
Pinball machines are very temperamental creatures! They can be working perfectly one minute and a moment later the ball won't launch or a drop target gets stuck. You might think that only old games break but even new games need love and attention. Marty does a lot of maintenance and repair himself. We also have a few very talented technicians who work diligently to keep our games in tip top shape.
Do your repair other people's machines?
No. We have our hands full working on Pastime Pinball's collection of 66+ games.
What are your favorite games?
Beth mostly plays games from the late 1980s on: Taxi, Bride of Pin•Bot, Attack from Mars and Theatre of Magic. Marty favors the old classics like Fireball, Centaur, Gorgar, Black Knight and High Speed.
Have a question about our pinball museum arcade that you'd like answered here? Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.