February 18, 2023
| accelerator

My Main Street helps Alexandria’s Game Over level up



A few months after moving to Alexandria, Kelly Maher and Chris Manels found their teenage children stir-crazy. “We noticed at eight or nine o’clock at night the kids are all just wandering the streets with nothing to do,” says Maher. As entrepreneurs, it didn’t take long for the pair to see an opportunity to provide the town with some much-needed entertainment.

“As kids, we went to arcades… even with our kids we went to arcades when they were younger, that was always the thing to do as a family,” says Maher. “So, it just made sense to us – why not do something that we already love to do?”

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo (Chris Manels and Kelly Maher)

Maher and Manels began formulating a plan for Game Over, an all-ages entertainment space offering arcade games, pool tables, and bubble tea in Alexandria. Mid-summer, a month before opening, they connected with Darrell Cox, My Main Street Ambassador for the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator program in North Glengarry. The My Main Street program aims to revitalize business communities through hands-on support and is funded with a $23.25-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) and delivered by the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO).

My Main Street’s in-depth market research on the demographics, interests and social media use in Alexandria confirmed Maher and Manels’ intuition that an arcade was a good opportunity. In fact, it showed the average household in the area spends 39% more on gaming and game accessories than the rest of Southern Ontario. Cox says the market research data also pointed out that, post-covid, the population is looking forward to partying, seeing friends, and attending events making Game Over the perfect hub to do so.

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo (Chris Manels and Kelly Maher)

Cox says it was clear right away for the My Main Street program that supporting Game Over would have a positive impact on the local business community. With the wide variety of stores in the area, he says that people coming to spend time at Game Over “might do more shopping on main street than they normally would.”

However, opening an arcade isn’t cheap, admits Maher. They had savings which they used to buy some games including two VR sets, some pool tables and a couple of arcade games. But the space still felt a bit sparse. “When people first came in at the beginning, of course they were excited – it's something new,” says Maher. “But there was a lot of space to improve, and we didn't have that many games.”

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo (Chris Manels and Kelly Maher)

Through the My Main Street program, Game Over received a $10,000 non-repayable contribution. Maher says the funding was integral and the pair devoted it to purchasing five more games for the space. “Without the funding, we wouldn't have been able to get these other games… it would probably have taken us a really long time to be able to afford,” says Maher. The funding allowed them to do so without going into debt. “It’s not something you want to do as a new business.”

Photo by: David Simon, Sandbox Photovideo (Chris Manels and Kelly Maher)

Three months in, Maher says she’s already at capacity for games. The space is filling up and people are travelling from places like Cornwall to visit. “Here we are with everything we need, our whole place is full,” says Maher, who’s still in disbelief at how quickly it moved. She feels like My Main Street allowed them to create a space the community really needed. “That funding gave us an amazing opportunity.”

About My Main Street

My Main Street is a $23.25-million Government of Canada investment through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) to support the recovery and revitalization of main streets and local businesses in southern Ontario. The Canadian Urban Institute and the Economic Developers Council of Ontario have partnered to deliver My Main Street through two program streams. Learn more at www.mymainstreet.ca.

About FedDev Ontario

For 13 years, the Government of Canada, through FedDev Ontario, has worked to advance and diversify the southern Ontario economy through funding opportunities and business services that support innovation, growth and job creation in Canada’s most populous region. The Agency has delivered impressive results, which can be seen in southern Ontario businesses that are creating innovative technologies, improving productivity, growing revenues, creating jobs, and in the economic advancement of communities across the region. Learn more about the impacts the Agency is having in southern Ontario by exploring our pivotal projects, our Southern Ontario Spotlight, and FedDev Ontario’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.

PARTNERS

My Main Street is operated by the Canadian Urban Institute and funded by the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.


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