New business spotlight: Black Box Gaming

Bradley Pierman, front, and James Hill play Mario Kart 64 on Nintendo 64 at Black Box Gaming, a video game/stay and play store that recently opened in Prescott Valley.

Photo by Max Efrein.

Bradley Pierman, front, and James Hill play Mario Kart 64 on Nintendo 64 at Black Box Gaming, a video game/stay and play store that recently opened in Prescott Valley.

Space Invaders for Atari. Sonic the Hedgehog for Sega Genesis. Mario Kart 64 for Nintendo 64.

Two months ago, finding these video games or the consoles to play them on for sale anywhere in the quad-city area was a losing battle.

Business basics

Business/office address: 8169 E. Florentine Road, Prescott Valley Website: www.bbgaz.com

“The only place you could find this stuff out here was online, and it’s expensive online,” said James Hill, 18.

Hill and his friend, Bradley Pierman, 16, were browsing the vast selection of older video games at Black Box Gaming on Thursday, May 19.

The video game/stay and play store opened in Prescott Valley on April 16 and specializes in selling and trading retro video games.

The two ‘gamers’ both expressed a great deal of enthusiasm for this new hangout spot in town.

“I love this place,” Pierman said.

Kevin and Allyson Walitalo are the owners of the business.

Kevin has been collecting and playing old video games for most of his life.

Though he refers to it as a ‘strategic hobby’, the idea of actually opening a store like Black Box Gaming didn’t come until the couple moved up to Prescott from Phoenix three years ago and realized the area was a retro video game desert.

“There are a lot of these sort of stores in Phoenix, but we couldn’t find any in this area,” Allyson said.

Most of the games currently lining the shelves came from Kevin’s personal collection, but many are the result of trade-ins.

Anyone with unwanted older video games or consoles in working condition can sell those items to the store.

The Walitalos will look up what the average price of the game is and either give the person 40 percent of the game’s value in cash or 60 percent of the game’s value in store credit.

One of the key features of the store is its “stay and play” set up. There’s a couch, an old, boxy television set and just about every old video game console you can imagine ready to play.

The arrangement is available for anyone looking to just hang out and try some old video games.

“It also allows them to test a game and know if it works before they bring it home,” Allyson said.

The couple use it to host free tournaments every Saturday night at 6 p.m. as well.

Kevin said he and his wife came up with a motto for the store.

“We tell everybody we don’t sell video games, we sell nostalgia,” Kevin said.

“The store brings people back to their childhood when they used to play these games. They get to pick out their favorite game from when they were a kid, sit in here and play it. It’s like nothing else matters but that moment.”