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Heard on the Street: Downtown video game arcade to level up with major expansion

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Nostalgic trip at the arcade Sara and Aaron Cutlip, of Winona, play a "Marvel vs. Capcom" arcade game while on a late Valentine’s Day date at the Machine Shed on Saturday in Rochester. The two said that Saturday was their first time playing games at the classic-style arcade. "It’s nice having the old-style games," Aaron said. "It’s a nostalgic trip."
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After about two years in the game, video game wizard James "Pinky" Aakreis taking his downtown Rochester arcade to the next level by almost tripling in size to create The Machine Shed2.0.

"This is my passion," he said of why he’s expanding.

Aakre launched the ’80s-style Machine Shed in late 2016 in an 800-square-foot garage at 11 Second St. NE, tucked in behind a commercial center near Rochester’s downtown. That now-under-renovation commercial center is to be anchored by Hollandberry Pannekoeken and On Trackboutique.

Aakre said he’s adding about 1,500 square feet of space by expanding into the connected buildings and moving into space last occupied by Wausau Homes.

With the addition, the Machine Shed’s selection will explode from 26 classic and new game machines to about 54 machines.

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While the selection is doubling, Aakre intends to keep the admission price of a flat $10 for unlimited play of all the games without quarters or tokens.

The entrance has been moved west from the nondescript garage door to a more visible spot on the side of the building.

Customers will enter into a retail area, where Aakre will sell vintage videos games and refurbished game consoles. Demo stations are available to try out the games before buying. The mini-shop will also sell select movies on VHS and ’80s memorabilia as well as provide a spot for parents to wait while kids play.

In addition, Machine Shed will now have space for a collection of up to eight pinball machines.

Aakre is also adding a private party area that will double as a virtual reality room outfitted with Oculus Rift gear.

While expanding his original arcade, Aakre is pulling the plug on his Machine Shed in the Apache Mall at the end of May. The games from the mall will be added to the mix at the downtown location.

Rochester’s D&R Staris slated to take over the mall arcade.

The expansion of Machine Shed comes as a new arcade and ax-throwing arena called Rochester Games and Arcadeis gearing up to open this summer.

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