Pinball News – Passion for pinball spawns new business in Jupiter – News – The Palm Beach Post

Dave Wilde and Eric Francis opened The Pinball Dudes in Jupiter because they love to play pinball, and wanted others to experience it.

JUPITER — Dave Wilde’s Davie home is a pinball enthusiast’s paradise.

Eric Francis’ Loxahatchee home is, too.

The pair owns dozens of pinball machines between them, so many that Francis had to build an addition to his home in order to store them, while Wilde had to negotiate a compromise with his wife.

“At my house, if you walked in my living room, my dining room and even much of the family room, they were taken over by pinballs,” Wilde said. “I literally had like 30 machines in my house.”

Wilde moved many of them out once he and Francis opened The Pinball Dudes, a Jupiter business that buys, sells, trades and restores new and old pinball machines. Visitors also can stop by if they just want to play pinball — for free.

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“We love pinball, and we want other people to be able to experience pinball,” said Wilde, who also works as the finance director for a car dealership in Delray Beach. “For us, it was a hobby that grew into more. It grew into a business, but we want other people to be able to experience pinball. A lot of people don’t know what pinball is. They play it on their phones with an app. But they haven’t actually gone in and played it physically.”

The Pinball Dudes offers customers that opportunity. The business keeps about 45 pinball machines at its Jupiter Park Drive store, with most of them in working condition.

Francis, a world-champion Jet Skier in his free time, works to restore the others. Some of the machines are more than 50 years old, while others are brand new.

“We refurbish the machines and get them ready for sale,” Wilde said.  “We do an awful lot on the internet. There are people all over the country who buy machines. But this is our hub. This is for the community to come in and experience the machines.”

Wilde grew up playing pinball, as did many of his customers.

Many of those who buy the machines are men in their 30s, 40s and 50s — like Wilde — and playing pinball takes them back to their childhoods.

Machines can cost from $1,000 to $10,000 at Pinball Dudes, depending on their age.

“If you buy a guy a pinball machine, he’ll absolutely love it,” said Wilde, who’s 54. “In the ’70s, we didn’t have arcade games at home, or stuff you can play on your phone. We had to go to the arcade. That’s what you had to do. I think it takes people…

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