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Written on 17th September 2020
So sorry for the sporadic updates of late! We hope that you are all ok and that you are all keeping well.
Its been a roller coaster ride has 2020 with more twists and turns ahead. The main focus is trying to build on things and plan ahead with our classic madness.
There have been many fruitful acquisitions over the summer and some real amazing things have come our way.
Its been a tough time of it and I guess like many of us things have been high and low, to the extreme sometimes, throughout this whole 'experience'.
I think the entire team have struggled within the arcades and its only now that we are starting to get momentum back with the plans ahead and general running.
With Maidstone still closed it has left things in a bit of a spin and muddle with us being over staffed in Kent with holiday been used to prevent shortening of peoples hours.
There has been a lot of things we have had to do behind the scenes, a lot of which is 'padding' to ensure we are braced for a leisure and hospitality restrictive order (if imposed), or the fact that people will be hibernating in the dark months ahead. We have a vast amount of machines ready to sell that are generic or part of the many arcades we have cleared in recent months. Another lockdown would kill almost every business, whatever the period, but whilst we cannot see this happening again it will be a case of 'treading water' through the winter.
Due to the uncertainty of things it would be insanity for us to refurbish Maidstone at this time. Reel Fruits will continue to live on in Bognor, we did hope to get Justin down here (even temporary) but its just too far for him so he declined. However we are doing all we can, and we need to ascertain what is good for all parties, the issue we have is Reel Fruits (Kent) is closed and the only Reel Fruits branch is Bognor. We are over on numbers for Mr Ps Kent so its a tough one at present with Justin never really worked at the AGC's means its an unfortunate issue. We only speak of this because Justin has been in Maidstone full time like the full time members of Chatham/Tonbridge have been in their posts so to prevent unnecessary thoughts its an informative paragraph.
People often forget that many years ago Mr P's was set in the bottom of the Heritage Quarter in Gravesend. Back then we crammed in as many classics as we could and met so many wonderful people in the years that was there. We still own every machine we had back then, and although it was a long long time ago we STILL have some of them that are running today without a break (like us).
Gravesend should of never of worked, it was the first of its kind and not seen before. Classics were still about here and there but our collection swelled in the years that followed with many of them being extremely hard to land. I think almost all of our machines in the collection have a story tbh. The industry laughed at us initially, thought that nobody wanted to play old machines. Remarkably, and this is a WONDERFUL thing, the £4.80 to £6 era still is a commanding stake and prize, some 27/28 years on from the actual release.
What is missing from the industry today is the variance of manufacturers and more importantly the superb programmers that were about in the day. When I look at some of the games made over the years and how DIFFERENT they were then you can see why we do not have a single Deal or no deal in our arcades, nobody even asks for them either!
The time off in lockdown should of given us all time to think. I had Dan come to see me yesterday, that's Big Dan, well, ONLY Big in height now after losing a WHOPPING 9 stone (and counting). Dan encountered some rough rides with us and going from player to workforce was always a tough old step for anyone as passionate about machines as Dan. The poor guy had his life turned upside down and whilst it was really tough and he left we have our great friendship intact and it is like 'old times' again. Some of the other people that we have had on our team have been fantastic too, many incredibly loyal too, as we always fight tooth and nail to repay to our team. In the past some team members have not felt that they were good enough or felt the pressures of the job too much, and to all of those they gave it their best shot and most importantly were 100% committed at all times. Sometimes as the 'unfortunate one' that must be captain of this ship it can be a hell of a ride, and we thank each and everyone that has been on ANY journey with us, no matter how long or short. Each and everyone that has been with us have been awesome in one way or another and we miss you, but grateful that so many of you keep in touch with us. The arcades are harder to work in than you think, they are consuming and not for the faint hearted.
I was told once that nothing lasts forever, of course this depends on what you define as forever. For me a lifetime is my 'favoured' definition of forever, and as we have dedicated such a vast amount of our own lives in presenting the greatest classic fruit machines to the masses we have sacrificed a great deal in the process.
Time whizzes by and in a flash you scratch your head and wonder. The ultimate goal I guess in life is to be happy and make those in your life happier.
We couldn't run the arcades if it wasn't for how many wonderful people come through to see us. You guys are magic and we thank you all whole heartily for all of your support over the years.
Finally, with much sadness we report the passing of the incredible C J Wren (aka Wizard). Chris was the creator of the MFME emulator that has been a lifeline to so many who love to play emulations of real fruit machines. I met Chris numerous times as helped him complete his 'final' mpu3 machine many years ago. He and I remained in contact and he would help anyone, anytime. It shocked me when it was announced on social media, with some great detective work over at desertislandfruits.com by the site owner. I can think of many people who have been and/or are seriously ill but thanks to Chris were able to enjoy the magic of the old machines again. So much time was dedicated by Chris for nothing other than other peoples enjoyment, for that ALONE the guy will always be a LEGEND. Chris will never be gone, he will live on in the fruity world forever. Chris passed at just 55. RIP Chris aka Wizard, see you someday in the arcade in the sky.
Look after yourselves, and each other,
Dave, Amelia, Ruby and Scarlett xxxx
Dave, Amelia, Ruby and Scarlett xxxx