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Richmond’s digital playground for families

By Samuel Cheng

Published 12:21 PDT, Tue May 10, 2022

In the sixth part of a series on Richmond’s business roots, we share the story of E-SPOT video arcade.

E-SPOT has been a staple and longstanding go-to location for arcade games in Richmond. 

The business opened in 1994, and the name “E-SPOT” was derived from the idea of having a spot for electronics. Since then, E-SPOT has expanded to include snooker, pool tables, retro arcade games, darts machines, Mahjong tables, doll crane machines, and computer gaming stations. 

With the business now in the hands of its third owner Eric Li, the future is looking brighter than ever. 

“I joined this business because there were very few places for kids, like my daughter, to go to during rainy days,” says Li. 

He also loves to see the smiles on people’s faces as they enjoy the available games.

The large variety of games is what sets E-SPOT apart. Most of its arcade games and machines are brought over directly from Japan. 

“Fathers can play pool or electronic darts while their kids are having a blast at the arcade and mothers are relaxing in our Mahjong rooms,” says Li. 

Despite the success, Li has also faced several challenges since taking over the business 12 years ago. One of the common challenges Li faces on a regular basis is abusive customers. 

“There are always ‘bad apples’ among any group of people who vandalize our machines and put graffiti inside the washrooms,” says Li. 

Another challenge is the increasing cost of rent. In 2016, the landlord of the previous location decided to triple the rent, which nearly forced the family-oriented venture to go out of business before it was able to find a new location. 

On top of that, E-SPOT was forced to close its doors for several months during the early days of COVID-19 lockdown. 

Li is always looking for new ideas and possible additions to the business, with escape rooms being at the top of his list right now. 

“I would like to keep (E-SPOT) at 18,000 square feet or larger so that we can add escape rooms and other interesting themes into our family entertainment centre, since both my wife and daughter enjoy escape room-type games,” says Li. 

With the roots of the business firmly established in Richmond, E-SPOT has been actively making connections with local organizations and community members. The business hosts members of the Richmond Mental Health Consumer and Friends Society every week. 

Staff strive to provide the best possible service as well as special arrangements when needed. For instance, E-SPOT hosted a Christmas event with the Bank of Montreal that accommodated over 200 guests. A Disney film crew also held a party there, with more than 350 performers and crew members dressed up in Disney costumes. 

Staff also have the added perk of being able to play any games they want, free of charge. 

“It’s almost like a home to them as they spend a lot of time in the shop when they’re not working,” says Li. “One of our staff (members) would practice his darts skills at our electronic darts machines because he likes to participate in darts tournaments in Vancouver.” 

Seeing many businesses come and go in the last decade, Li highlights the importance of establishing a long-term business as it takes a long time to break down the cost of investments, especially with rent costs continuing to increase.

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