The Video Game Exchange store in Lodi’s Lakewood Mall across from Rick’s Pizza is expected to reopen next week.
Having been closed for the past seven years, the store is being rebooted by past patron Bill Schroeder.
Tom Martin originally opened Video Game Exchange in 1996 and he was thrilled to hear that Schroeder wanted to reopen the store. Martin had run the store for more than a decade before closing to move to Colorado with his son and wife about a decade ago. The Video Game Exchange locations in Lodi and Stockton were then sold to Martin’s brother-in-law who ran it for six to seven years before closing it down due to a career change.
The Video Game Exchange store has been closed for seven years now.
“I think he’s more excited than I am about the reopening,” said Schroeder about Martin. “He’s been very helpful whenever I have questions. He’s excited that something he’s made has stuck around this long.”
Schroeder first heard about the Video Game Exchange when he was 12 years old through an article that his mom saw in the local paper in 1996. He was a frequent customer, visiting the store after school with his friends, according to Martin.
“Him and his friends would do chores to earn games or lunch,” said Martin. “Billy, Randy and Mark were close and kind of like the three stooges. My wife was a big softy for them and over the years Billy has become family. We felt like second parent to them because we spent enormous amounts of time with them.”
The new Video Game Exchange will include many elements from the past store but will also include new touches such as a small arcade.
“We’re going to have mini cabinets to let a few kids come in and play and learn about the old arcade games,” Schroeder said. “I want it to be like a fun place for kids and similar to the hangout place I had when I was growing up.”
Schroeder was drawn to the Video Game Exchange store because he found it a place to explore his love of video games freely and unapologetically.
“It was a place that I could go and be myself,” said Schroeder. “When I was in school, playing games wasn’t so acceptable and I got teased. My friends and I always had somewhere to go and get away from the typical high school life thanks to this store.”
One of Schroeder’s favorite games is Castlevania, which was originally on the Nintendo game system. He’s enjoyed sharing the game with his 5-year-old son, who loves it almost as much as his dad, according to Schroeder, who hopes to have a soft opening for the new store next week.
Video Game Exchange is located at 1320 Lockeford St., across from Rick’s Pizza in the Lakewood Mall. Once open, Schroeder will be open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.