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We're Open: Red's Novelty continues to supply entertainment to the community

Posted at 6:26 AM, Mar 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-11 07:26:00-05

From PacMan to pinball, Red's Novelty has been supplying entertainment to Wisconsin establishments for over 80 years.

"My grandfather was nicknamed Red's, which was how the company was named, and I am third-generation owner," says Jay Jacomet, owner of Red's Novelty.

For Jay, taking over the family business was a no-brainer.

"I grew up playing video games, playing pinball. I loved coming here as a kid as I do now. I have three beautiful daughters with my wife that love coming here," says Jay.

However, as technology grows, competing with apps has been Red's biggest challenge as of late.

"Now you have a cell phone that can play every game possible. So arcade games, video games so to speak, aren't as popular as they once were," says Jay.

That is until COVID-19 took its toll on local businesses this time last year.

"When the pandemic hit, a lot of locations either closed or shut down, and it was tough for us. If I could go a week without getting a call to say come pick up my equipment because I'm closing, it was a good week," says Jay.

With the pandemic forcing Jay to operate alone, for some time, there were moments it seemed like it was game over.

Then something crazy happened, and nostalgia saved the day.

"Oh, it was a thrill. I loved getting that call to say could you sell me a game? Could you bring a game to my house? I have kids that want to stay inside and play these games," says Jay.

With a few bonus lives in their pocket, Red's has been able to bring joy into people's homes. As things progress with the pandemic and vaccines, Jay is also able to help businesses reopen.

"I think we are about 2/3rds back open to where we were before the pandemic. I'm hearing a lot of locations have either relocated or planning to find a new place to reopen," says Jay.

Whether it's 1960 or 2021, hitting the jackpot or claiming the high score will never get old.

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