'Big part of my life': Avalon Mall games arcade manager sad to see it close

A fixture outside the mall's movie theatre complex, the Starcade will accept its last token on January 28.

Jamie Hibbs has been working there for 20 years, but that will end in January

Jamie Hibbs has worked at the games arcade in the Avalon Mall for 20 years. He was 22 when he started. (Gavin Simms/CBC)

A St. John's business that's been fun for the young and young at heart, but a drain on many a parent's wallet, is shutting its doors in the new year.

Starcade, the games arcade in the Avalon Mall, has posted a sign telling customers that it will close Jan. 28, and is looking for "a new home."

A sign outside the arcade informs customers that the end is near. (Geoff Bartlett/CBC)

The arcade, outside the mall's movie theatre complex, has been a fixture in the shopping centre for 25 years.

"I gotta be honest with you. I'm devastated," said arcade manager, Jamie Hibbs, who said he has been with the facility since 1997, when he was only 22.

"It's been a big part of my life," he said. "My stepfather worked here. My sister worked here. I've had cousins that worked here."

Only arcade in St. John's

Hibbs said news the arcade would close came from the head office of the owners, Nova Scotia-based Central Amusements, about six months ago.

"We're not closing for lack of business," he said. While he wasn't told the reason why, Hibbs said he had a "premonition" when Cineplex took over the movie complex.

"I'm hoping we do get to open a new place. Where that will be I don't know yet."

The arcade business has changed, Hibbs said, moving away from pinball to more sophisticated graphics and LED screens, although there is still a Frogger game.

Hibbs says there is still a Frogger game, but no more pinball and the air hockey table has already been moved out. (Gavin Simms)

The clientele has changed too.

"Before it was the teenager crowd. Now it's the five- to 10-year-old we see more of."

The arcade was pretty cleaned out on Thursday, in preparation for the move out of the mall next month. The air hockey table has moved out to another facility, Funderdome, an indoor racetrack on Topsail Road that features a few games.

Hibbs said he has seen a lot of kids grow up and still runs into them in the mall. 

"We're the only arcade in St. John's ... that's very sad."