Quirky Pinball Collection Doesn’t Pay the Bills in SF


Free Gold Watch has one of the largest collections of pinball machines in the San Francisco Bay Area, according to SF Weekly, yet the business is only surviving because they’re a silkscreen print shop, too, creating custom T-shirts, hoodies and more.

In the back room, beyond the pinball machines and classic arcade video games, that print shop has proved necessary to keep an arcade going in the city as mandates still keep them shut indefinitely.

Other San Francisco arcades have shuttered or are on their last legs: Coin-Op Game Room is closed for good; High Scores Arcade might be done for; and the historic Musée Mécanique on Fisherman’s Wharf has turned to GoFundMe to stay alive.

“It’s a labor of love,” said Free Gold Watch owner Matthew Henri about his arcade. “It’s mainly the screen-printing side that pays the bills. Because it’s not like these games are these giant cash cows that keep everything afloat.”

For now, the 57 pinball machines and 25 other classic arcade games lie in wait for weekend players and the city’s only pinball league, The San Francisco Pinball Department, to put the quarters in once more. Learn more at www.freegoldwatch.com.


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