The end of an era has come to Redondo Beach, Calif. Steve Shoemaker, industry inventor best known for his Challenger crane and Wedges/Ledges pusher, along with countless other games, ideas and patents, closed his Fun Factory on the waterfront in the Southern California town yesterday, Oct. 13, after an almost 50-year run of fun.
Players young and old came out in droves for one more chance to ride the Tilt-a-Whirl or win some tickets. The place was packed.
Swarmed by people making deals to buy nostalgic signs or coin-op games on the floor (all were for sale), Shoemaker was his usual denim-clad-shirt self and even in the overwhelming crowd stopped to ask how RePlay publisher Eddie Adlum was doing and if this reporter’s daughters had been able to come.
Shoemaker’s lease of the property on Redondo’s International Boardwalk along the water was bought out for $9 million back in 2017. That buy-back deal, which cut his lease short seven years, was made so the city could move forward with a redevelopment plan with a company named CenterCal. The agreement stipulated a closing date of Jan. 17, 2020, for the longtime game room. But, as things sometimes go, not all the citizens were on board with the project and the changes (traffic, etc.) it would bring. Long story short, the deal was scrapped and is still playing out in court. The city told the local Daily Breeze that the court case prevented them from working with Shoemaker on a renegotiated lease he’d requested. With no extension options reached, the arcade would have to close so the property could be vacated on time.
For numerous people taking their families for one more round of fun at the arcade, none of the political wrangling mattered. They were losing a place where memories were made. So, after close to 50 years, the famous Fun Factory celebrated its final day. In an email message sent out as the date neared, Shoemaker wrote: “Adios Amigos. Last half century has been fun!” On behalf of families throughout the South Bay, it sure has been, Steve!