Operator Profile – Gregory Trent

Gregory Trent

Gregory Trent started getting more serious about the arcade business when he was 13. By age 16, he was a co-owner of Back Alley Lanes VR-Cade in Daytona Beach, Fla., with his parents, Greg and Maria Trent.

Whiz Kid to Savvy Businessman

Young Operator with Industry Roots Grows Back Alley Lanes VR-Cade

By Matt Harding

Gregory Trent caught the business bug from his parents at a very young age. After all, he grew up around Greg and Maria Trent’s Beyer & Brown, the Florida-based route specializing in billiards, jukeboxes, darts, games and ATMs.

“It’s been a part of my life for as long as I’ve been around,” Trent said. “I would spend a lot of days after school in my parents’ office in a play area I had – from the time I was in diapers until about eight years old.”

The family business, established in 1941, was where Gregory started to become interested in amusements and picked up the jargon his dad would use.

“When I was probably eight, I started my first business at home,” he reported. “I give a lot of props to my mom, who noticed and helped foster that. From that time on, I always kind of knew that I wanted to own a business.”

In 2019, when Gregory was 13, his dad was looking to open an arcade at a local mall that would act as an extra showroom for his route, filled with for-sale arcade games and pinballs that would also be available to play.

Back Alley Lanes Logo“He took me with him to show me the location and gave me a look around the place,” the younger Trent said. Once his dad explained the idea, Gregory suggested adding a VR and esports component. While he was familiar with virtual reality, esports was a foreign concept at the time.

“So, I put together a Shark Tank-like pitch for my dad with statistics and different locations with a similar setup to what I wanted to do,” he said.

Greg Sr. loved the idea and soon opened Esports Arcade in the Volusia Mall in Daytona Beach, Fla. Young Gregory continued learning from his parents and started out by helping figure out inventory systems and taking on some managerial tasks, and also “bringing my own passion and understanding of esports and virtual reality.”

Having stayed open through the pandemic, Esports Arcade was quickly outgrowing its space, which was only 1,200 sq. ft.

Gregory talks with a group of Beyer & Brown employees, who go to Back Alley Lanes for lunch each week. They are Matt Boyce, Billy Vazquez, Mike Bourdette, Josh Theobold and Lou Guerra.

At IAAPA Expo and Amusement Expo, they began to consider the Omni Arena from Virtuix. “Of course, that was going to be our whole location space, so we started looking for somewhere new,” he explained.

Through Beyer & Brown’s extensive contacts, they found a guy with a small bowling alley and 20-game arcade who was no longer local to the area and looking to sell. This was in 2022, when Gregory was nearing his 16th birthday.

“I was fortunate through my dad’s networking we were able to find the place that worked for us,” Trent said. “We had never done bowling before, either.”

Gregory Trent 0724

Virtuix’s Omni Arena is a big highlight of Back Alley Lanes. Above, Gregory gives the introduction to a group of guests, which includes retired NASCAR legend Tony Stewart.

That space today is called Back Alley Lanes VR-Cade, a 16,000-sq.-ft. bowling alley with eight bowling lanes, a bar and an expanded 40-piece arcade, of which the Omni Arena is a highlight.

Trent recalled being at an AMOA On the Road meeting after the family opened the original Esports Arcade. He said he happened to have a chat with Lisa Chapman, who was working with Virtuix at the time. Years later, when they were eyeing that big VR piece, Chapman remembered Gregory and his story about being in the biz at such a young age. “I really appreciated that they took me seriously,” he said.

“I felt the Omni Arena – in terms of what our customers would like – would be best,” he added. “It felt more immersive, less strings attached.” That was one of the first attractions they put into the new Back Alley space. It’s the focal point of the center, right at the front door.

“It’s obviously always number one in our sales reports,” Trent said. “We don’t even put a lot of effort into marketing it. It has its own esports tournaments built in, which is such a draw for people.” He added that people actually often hear about the location because of Omni Arena.

Among the other big earners in the arcade are Fast & Furious and King Kong of Skull Island VR. “Kong was the VR we had before Omni Arena,” Trent explained, adding that it’s a good test for how VR is received in your facility. “We were able to put that in the Esports Arcade.”

The expansive selection of quality games accounts for about 60% of amusement revenue, he reported, with the remaining 40% in bowling. Back Alley has eight full-size Brunswick lanes in the venue.

“The bowling is something we’ve had to learn more about,” Trent said, noting the family has started going to Bowl Expo in recent years.

Important to his parents’ success in business has been attending such events and being involved in associations, and Gregory has been taking notes (and also giving presentations, like at the 2024 Amusement Expo in a session with Bob Cooney).

“AMOA contributed so much to my foundational understanding and confidence in business and the industry,” he said. Having joined BPAA since the purchase of the bowling alley has been beneficial, too. “We’re constantly learning things through more experienced people. Being a new person in the bowling industry, I’m definitely listening to them.”

Having graduated high school (in fact, just the day prior to his phone interview with RePlay), Trent is excited to be heading to college this fall but is also enthusiastic about a future in the industry.

“My day-to-day has always been school being number one.” He explained that thanks to dual enrollment throughout high school, he also has an associate’s degree. “That’s always been my first priority.”

But he added he’s always been able to find a spare window of time to work on Esports Arcade and now Back Alley Lanes. “I used to play a lot of sports, but my passion for business superseded that.” Trent said he consistently ran the business for three days a week after school.

With his next endeavor, he’s looking into a finance or business degree at Brigham Young University in Utah. While he won’t be physically present at Back Alley, he’ll still be involved and work to grow the business.

He also plans to get more hands-on experience with his dad’s route in hopes of taking that over from him when he’s ready to start selling in the future.

You can learn more at www.backalleylanes.com.

Gregory Trent 0724


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