In the 1980s, video game arcades and malls went together like Reese’s Pieces and alien visitors.

James “Pinky” Aakre will soon revive that pairing in the Med City.

Aakre is booting up a second Machine Shed arcade in Rochester’s Apache Mall as a companion to his original arcade at 11 Second St. NE, near Rochester’s downtown.

The plan is to plug the Machine Shed into the Apache Mall at the start of September. It will be in a 2,500-square-foot space in the northwest wing of the mall, next to Christopher & Banks and the children’s play area, according to Aakre.

“I think it’s going to be a good location for us,” he said.

The same loyal Machine Shed team that players know from downtown will also help staff the mall arcade.

He expects to have about 30 to 40 video cabinets based at the mall plus a pinball machine or two. It will probably have a few more machines than the downtown Shed.

One thing might be different about the Apache Mall arcade versus the original location. He is still working out how players will pay at the mall arcade.

Aakre is considering having the mall arcade run on a traditional quarter-per-play model. Customers at the first Machine Shed, which opened in 2016, pay $10 for unlimited play on all games.

The Machine Shed is following a national trend with this move. Many malls across the U.S. have brought back video game arcades as the retail landscape has dramatically shifted in recent years.

“I think the malls are looking for things that aren’t hurt by Amazon,” he said.

Later this year, Aakre has another play he hopes to make that might result in a major expansion in the downtown arcade.

In the meantime, the mall beckons.

Jeff Kiger tracks business action in Rochester and southeastern Minnesota every day in Heard on the Street. Send tips or questions to

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