If it hasn’t been made evident by now, we love people here at AAT! We love hearing about their stories and passions for our community, but we also love hearing about what our fellow locals do and why they do it! For example, we have some wonderful neighbors who own/manager some fantastic local businesses and serve our town tremendously by doing so! This fact is why AAT has partnered up with our good friends at B3 Glass, to bring you all “Small Business Fridays!” Each week, we’ll feature a different, local small business and talk with its owner and hear about their journey, their business in general, as well as their heart for their customers and our city!
This week, we have an AAT first. We’ve interviewed spouses and co-workers together before for a feature; however, this is the first time we’ve ever talked with an entire family at once! Yes, we have the Minter family joining us today, and they are the wonderful group of people behind Stick With Us Amusements. This multigenerational business team is made up of Russ and his wife, Lora, and their son Adam and his wife, Katie. If you’ve lived in Elko for a reasonable period, you may have run into one or two of the Minters. They’ve remained relatively active in the community through aspects such as donating financially towards supporting local arts and education, volunteering for PTAs, overseeing The Great Basin Film Festival, coaching sports, or working at the Western Folklife Center.
What is their business, Stick With Us Amusements? It’s a Nevada staple that focuses on providing our area with non-gaming (casino) types of entertainment, such as pool tables, jukeboxes, ATM’s and arcade-style video games. From Winnemucca to Wells, you’ll find their amusements all over Eastern Nevada.
Since multiple people are joining us for this interview, we’ll keep the conversation simple! I (Anthony Crosby) will ask a question, and we’ll hear the responses from one or two of the Minters. Let’s have some fun and get started!
How did Stick With Us Amusements come to be? How did you all, as a family, get into the entertainment business?
Russ– “I started when I was still in high school, back in 1971/1972. My mom and dad had started the company. This was before Pong had been invented, so we were dealing with, mostly, electro-mechanical games. During the first year or two of the business, we were buying used games; eventually, we bought our first new game which was a pinball machine. I was so excited to deliver it to the location that I talked my brother into carrying it; it weighed several hundred pounds! I started in Carson City, and eventually, I went on to run the Sparks office. In 1993, I moved the family to Elko and started the route out here.”
Lora– “My family has been in Elko for about eighty-five years. I left the town after high school to attend UNR. I lived in the Reno area for seventeen years while Russ was still working down there. We got married, and that’s how I got involved with the business! Seven years ago, we separated off from his family and bought the route up here that Russ had established.”
Katie– “Five years ago, we (she and Adam) had come back to Elko, for Christmas, from Washington where we had lived for six years
Russ– “Katie and Adam are in the process of buying the business from Lora and me, and we’re going to retire completely.”
What do you love most about your work?
Katie– Our job is fun, and we get to help families create memories!
Russ– “I saw the development of Pong, Space Invaders, Pac-Man; I got to experience all of the gaming advancements! There’s been a lot of advancements with the jukeboxes as well; I’ve been able to witness all of that over the years! That’s why I love it; I was able to ride that rollercoaster! It’s been a blast and not just for us. One thing I also enjoy is bringing in a new game and watching the kids light up with big grins on their faces.”
Lora– “We have people we’ve worked with for twenty-five years! I love that! You meet a lot of really wonderful people on the job, which is why we also believe we need to give back to our community, be involved, and work to make our community better.”
Adam- “The arcade industry is seeing a big, nostalgic boom. Pinball (for example) is forming this huge culture behind it, especially in the big cities around the country; it’s crazy to see how much popularity it’s gaining.”
Russ- “In fact, in the early eighties, more money was made in our industry than the movie and music industries, combined! That when we were at our peak!”
Are there any significant challenges you all continue to face as a business?
Adam and Katie– “The games that come out nowadays are huge. They’re being designed for places like a Dave and Buster’s or fun center; it can be a challenge finding something with a footprint that will fit in your local pizza parlor.”
Lora– “They also cost an arm and a leg. There was a time when you could buy one for three to five thousand dollars, now they’re up to twenty-three thousand dollars and more!”
Russ– “Growth as a business can also be a challenge. Working in a town the size of Elko means there’s not a lot of new restaurants or venues opening to create new accounts. So, we focus a lot of our time and attention on taking care of our current customers.”
What does it look like for you all to care for your local customers?
Lora– “We run our business on the premise that honesty, experience, and good relationships with our customers, matter. Those are things we don’t take lightly but rather things we work at every day. For example, once we’ve been made aware of a repair need, we’re at that location within twenty-four hours. For as long as we’ve been in business that’s been a big emphasis for us. We’re here. We can solve it for you. You don’t have to try and find somebody one hundred miles away. That’s something we take pride in.”
It sounds like you all value working in and being involved with the Elko community, correct?
Katie– “Having grown up in Elko, when I graduated from high school I moved to Reno, and I said I was not coming back! It turns out that this is a great place to raise a family! I’m really happy to be here.”
Lora– “I had the same experience as Katie. I left Elko when I was seventeen, and I was never coming back. I didn’t for seventeen years, but once we started having kids and wanting our family around us, we came back! I’m glad we did because we were able to expose our kids to so much diversity thanks to everyone, from around the world, who moved here for work at the mines!”
Katie– “We want to immerse ourselves within this community. We were raised here; this is our home, and we believe that you take care of your home!”
You can stay caught up on everything going on around here at AAT by checking out our “Stay Connected” page! Make sure you never miss a feature!
See you around, Elko!