Hit the Reset Button at new Tigard arcade

Ash Wolfe and Julian Lepe play a game of The Simpsons.
Ash Wolfe and Julian Lepe play a game of The Simpsons. All games are set to free-play with admission – no quarters required. Mike Antonelli/TIGARD LIFE

That old familiar sound pouring out of Reset Button’s open door may land on passing ears as just the rack and clatter of an old school arcade cacophony, but to Jordan Elting and Richard Wigginton, it’s the sweet, sweet symphony of a dream taking shape.

And, they hope, the soundtrack of a community in the making.

Tigard’s newest game space celebrates its grand opening on Sunday, Feb. 27 with a day of discounted play, raffles, contests, and prizes.

Elting and Wigginton launched Reset Button as a brick-and-mortar space last month after years of growing their fledgling collection, machine by machine, and taking the games on the road to host pop-up arcades.

Games date back to the late 1970s, with Asteroids Deluxe and Centipede holding the title of oldest; Aliens racking up the most plays as a current customer favorite. 

They’re steadily growing the 20-some game selection, hoping to add a handful of pinball machines – a frequent customer request – by the end of the month.

While both men say they’re living the dream, Reset Button is also still a work in progress.

They see through the arcade’s wall to a someday next-door expansion housing a mix of more upright machines, pinball, and a vintage lounge with old school consoles and period couches and TVs to match. 

Down the road, they envision bracketed tournament play and possible celebrity visits.

Right now, it’s all about building community.

Richard Wigginton (R) and Jordan Elting (L), are excited to have a permanent space in Tigard.
After a year of taking their vintage game collection on the road to host pop-up arcades, Richard Wigginton (R) and Jordan Elting (L), are excited to have a permanent space in Tigard. Mike Antonelli/TIGARD LIFE

“Our first goal is to become a part of this Tigard community,” Wigginton said. “We love that (people) can just come in and hang out.”

To foster that, the arcade offers a flat-fee $10 all-day-play entrance, a style Elting and Wigginton prefer to the old quarter-a-play model. Customers can linger or come and go throughout the day. There’s a front window board game area with a snack bar and tables for hanging out.

“We have so many stories of just being arcade rats. Every day trying to get some quarters from Mom. It was a good feeling and we got out. We want to see that again (for local kids),” said co-owner Richard Wigginton. “But also (we want) to interact with people our age and even a little older and hear their stories about the arcades they went to maybe in the late ‘70s early ‘80s when we were still really young.”

In resetting the machines to free, they hope players will check out some games they wouldn’t otherwise try and work through challenging levels that take time and patience to master.

It’s a model patterned after the nation’s largest arcade, Galloping Ghost, an 860-game Midwest behemoth, where plays have all-day access for $25.

Doc Mack, Galloping Ghost’s owner and a legend in the tight-knit arcade world has been something of a mentor to Elting and Wigginton, who say they’ve found similar helping hands and tight-knit community throughout this journey.

“He essentially was a business advisor for us,” Elting said. “He helped us get on the right track with how to get it going…everyone just wants to help everyone else. With Doc Mack, he was just basically giving us his entire business model and saying use it. If it helps you succeed, then do it.”

They’re also working with Tigard’s Arcade Club to add some of the now-defunct arcade machines to the Reset Button collection.

“Every morning when I turn on the machines, all of the sounds, I almost feel like I’m immediately transported back to my childhood,” Elting said. “I kind of have a moment of ‘it’s everything I ever wanted’ right here.”

This perfect moment has been years in the making for Elting who first used the Reset Button moniker selling vintage game consoles and held tight to the vision of one day opening an arcade even when he had no home.

Six years ago, Elting was houseless with a wife and three young children. The family spent half-a-year living first at a Molalla campground and then at homeless shelters, with Elting commuting to work before the family saved enough to get their own place.

It’s not lost on him that the arcade’s new space is just a few strip mall stores down the way from a laundromat he frequented while his family was in limbo.

Even in the most difficult stretches, Elting says he kept his eyes on his dream and kept moving forward, taking inspiration from his father, who pitched in to help paint as they prepared to open.

“I grew up watching my dad, who is the absolute hardest working humble person I’ve ever known,” he said. “That work ethic and humility is something I strive for and constantly work toward.”

Reset Button Arcade’s Grand Opening 

When: Sunday, February 27th Noon – midnight!

What: $8 includes all day unlimited play starting at noon. Pinball premier and other newly added games, On the spot game challenges: beat the owners for a free day pass.

Where: Reset Button Arcade
11945 SW Pacific Hwy, Suite 240 (Tigard Plaza/Joann Fabric center)Open Fri. and Sat.  Noon to 10 p.m., Sun. 2-10 p.m.; Mon. 4-10 p.m.

More: www.reset-button.com

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has been a writer and journalist for three decades, beginning with a stint with The Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch. More recently she has been a regular contributor to The Oregonian. Her work has appeared in dozens of magazines, newspapers and webzines. You can reach her at holly@tualatinlife.com.