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Store takes patrons back in time to their childhoods
Chief Ben Ramirez, a navigation and electronics technician who will retire from the Navy at the end of April after 20 years of service, has a passion for retro video games and toys.
That passion is on full display at Back in Time Gaming and Collectibles, a store Ramirez opened a few months ago on Wheaton Way in East Bremerton.
"People come into our store and start looking at everything and a lot of times they get overwhelmed by what they see," Ramirez said. "It's our childhood bedroom again. It's all the stuff that my generation grew up playing with that we loved."
When the shop first opened, there were about 20 people a day. Now, that number is usually about 40 or more people a day.
"For a store like this, if you make any sales in a day, it's a good day," Ramirez said. "This is more about having fun. It's nice having so many people coming in here everyday and thanking us for opening the store because there's really nothing else like what we do."
The store's three big money makers are the classic Nintendo NES, Nintendo 64 and Super Nintendo gaming systems.
"We don't want to compete with Game Stop, so we're not trying to go down that path," Ramirez said. "They focus on the newer system stuff. Our big thing is we love retro gaming."
In addition, the store caters to the Sega Genesis, Atari and XBox. The shop is also one of the only places in the area with a disc repair system. They also carry anime books and DVDS along with Magic the Gathering cards. When it comes to action figures and toys, the shop focuses on Transformers, G.I. Joe, Star Wars and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but they carry a wide variety of other toys as well.
"All day long, I hear people saying, 'I remember having this toy growing up,'" Ramirez said. "It's a great feeling and it's great to hear. A lot of people want to have the toy that their parents couldn't afford to buy when they were younger."
For Ramirez, and a countless number of other kids across the country in his generation, "that toy" was the enormous USS Flag aircraft carrier from G.I. Joe which he now owns and has in a large game room at his home.
Today, the aircraft carrier can cost between $1,000 and $1,500. Back in the day, it retailed for $299 and Ramirez paid $600 for his. He's also working on getting one for the store.
"It would be great for our surface community right down the road," he said. "I think it would be something neat that they could see as an appreciation."
And when it comes to toys and collectibles, Ramirez is a big proponent of taking things out of their "collector" boxes.
"A lot of people buy these toys and wanna let them sit there for ages until they are worth thousands of dollars," Ramirez said. "One of the things I've learned is you can't take it with you. You might as well take it out of the box and enjoy it."
The Back in Time store is a family affair. Ramirez' wife, Jessica, and their sons Nico, 14, and Aiden, 8, are often on site. Ramirez' mom, Ramona, is also sometimes at the store helping out. Along that line, the store is family oriented.
"We don't want stuff that would offend other peoples' kids," Ramirez said. "My kids, of course, love it. Imagine being 14 and 8 and saying, 'We own a game store.' That's like heaven for them."
The store, located at 4171 Wheaton Way, is closed Mondays. Store hours for the rest of the week are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays; from noon to 8 p.m. on Saturdays; and from noon to 6 p.m. on Sundays. Folks can buy, sell or trade when visiting the shop.