PASADENA (CBSLA) — Both enamored the neon-lit machines displaying, alien battles, race cars and even a yellow sphere gobbling ghosts, it was only fitting that Mark and Mia Guenther's love story began with the most classic arcade game.
"We connected over pinball college," said Mark who first met his wife after he invited her to play on the pinball machine he kept in his dorm room.
After college, the couple slowly but surely continued to collect arcade games until it was too much to keep in their home.
"It was like one game turned into five, turned into 50," said Mia. "Once we kind of hit a certain point, we [had] to open up a space to put these in because they can't come in the house."
In 2015, they decided to spread their love for vintage games with their own Neon Retro Arcade in Pasadena. It succeeded for its first five years until the pandemic closed it for 15 months.
"There were many times where we should've given up — or could've given up," said Mia. "But people really love this place and we do too. We can't imagine our lives without it."
While it was difficult to persevere those 15 months, the business made it through. To show appreciation for the small businesses that persevered through one of the most difficult economic downturns in American History, the City of Pasadena started the event "From Pasadena, With Love" beginning on Nov. 27, Small Business Saturday.
"We're so appreciative of everything that the community, as well as the city, has done to support the small shops," said Jill Pearson, owner of Homage. "That's why we're still here."
The campaign lasts until Dec. 24, Christmas Eve. Patrons can receive free gifts and enter giveaways while also getting discounts at various small businesses.
According to the Small Business Administration, local businesses raked in a record $19.8 billion during last year's Small Business Saturday. The organization believes the record will be broken once again this year.
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