We at Arcade Punk were recently invited to The CEX shop in Weston-super-Mare, not only a buy, sell and trade-in store, but in this instance THE FIRST CEX STORE IN THE WORLD to offer a fully fitted out cyber lounge coffee shop upstairs…
We met up with Josh, JT Retail Entertainments Marketing Manger (One of the largest South West franchises of CeX.) who seemed to really enjoy his job and loved the cafe upstairs at the Weston-super-Mare branch, he beamed as he explained “This is the only one in the world, all the guys from corporate make special journeys from London here to see how this is going, yet seem to spend most of their time playing.”
We asked ‘why’ they had decided to create a cyber/arcade cafe in this store, he smiled and said “CEX are not only owned by the company as a whole but franchised out, this particular store is part of a franchise and the owner has interests in cafes in the surrounding area, there was this huge space upstairs so thought ‘why not?'” . The store opened in October 2015 and we did this from the offset, a place to relax, test games and products and of course have some fun.
We spoke to some of the staff in-store who all seemed quite cheery and not too bothered by the fact they were working, most of the staff we spoke to had full on gaming geekiness blood rolling around their bodies including the store manager, Chris, who is a PS4 gamer who also loves to ‘retro-out’ on his Nintendo Game Cube playing Zelda and any classic Mario games, “I also have a Game Boy Colour for on the move, and love the cafe upstairs, its something different a great place to chill out for half hour.”
The upstairs treasure is frequently visited by students from the towns growing Weston College who are set to expand their University status over the next few years.
Most of the machines upstairs (both original and reproduction) were provided by Home Leisure Direct, who have made a great video documenting the installations and showing off the created areas….
As we freely walked around the venue, we got a great feel of modern meets retro, with quirkiness in all directions, from the original Sony Playstation sign hanging down to the awesome light made from VHS video tapes (perhaps the ONLY use for them nowadays!). We also took a look at the gaming area whereby there are some kiosk stands of modern day (PS4/XB1) consoles with Ratchet and Clank, Forza and Minecraft all on free-to-play. Josh explains “We even have on-line accounts for the Xbox one and PS4, so gamers can enjoy the true play-ability and on-line experiences”
The cafe serves a fantastic selection of snacks from crisps and chocolate to paninis and a selection of cold (fizzy and still) drinks as well as a huge range of coffees and hot drinks, this is ultimate gamers refreshments!
A choice of places to sit and relax, from an American diner style seating area, complete with tabletop charging stations (mains and USB) which can be found at every lounging point, all the way to a large group table made from old Apple Mac computers, which light up a glowing welcoming light, this place is geek heaven – and we’ve not even got on to the cabs and arcade games yet!
There are glass shelves around the area which are housing retro consoles, something that as yet CEX do not sale (they go as far back as the Playstation 2), but Josh confirmed that the rumours they are considering re-entering the retro gaming market are true, which is fantastic news if you are near a CEX store (check out the store-checker for information) – The small selection consisted of an Atari 2600, Super Nintendo, Sega Megadrive and a Boxed NES – this looks like the start of a great collection and we can only hope that on our next visit the collection has increased, maybe with some demo gaming videos to show those who missed the era how playable and cool the games were.
ARCADE MACHINES AND GAMING AT CEX WESTON
The cafe has 2 tabletop customised iCade based machines, a Simpsons pinball table, a sit down 2 player Ferrari Cabinet, A modern retro looking Donkey Kong cabinet housing an iCade based system, a Naomi style cabinet housing the Ghost Squad games and a couple of guns and of course the kiosks plus a projector system linked up to any system required (currently set to Playstation 4). There is free wi-fi throughout the venue and in all fairness the cafe compliments the trading store below.
UNIQUE DECOR AND ROOM STYLING
“We want to expand the cafe and invite more groups, social clubs and people that can make use of the space into the areas, we are not adverse to moving machines about (Everything moves easily enough) and hosting gaming events and anything that ties in well with the space, we are ‘reaching out’ to the local community to bring thoughts, suggestions and ideas to us, maybe if you are involved in a club then this could be the venue for you – we appreciate that our store opening times may not co-incide with your groups meeting times and tournament times so we are open to discuss how we can work together with the local groups to make this work for them” says Josh, who is very passionate about moving this venue forward and getting it out there to the right people (our people!).
AROUND THE STORE
Reading some of the reviews from their FaceBook page, it seems we are not the only ones who love the concept:-
I love the Cafe on the top floor it’s really cool nicely designed feels homely but also has free play PS4 for customersto buy drinks or food. they also have Pac Man arcades and racing arcade machines it’s brilliant and on top of that the food is quite nice with a range of coffee and other drinks. I will be coming back again! – GC
Absolutely loved the upstairs cafe and the drinks were lovely! – CW
Such an awesome place to just go and hang out in town! Also such great prices – EK
I love the way you can relax in the coffee shop upstairs and all the staff are really friendly and always happy to help and the staff always asks if you need any help with anything. – SC
We enjoyed our day out to the beach, it seems that Weston-super-Mare has lots to offer the retro-heads in us not only has a fantastic pier but also the worlds first CEX arcade/cyber cafe, which we wasted a few hours in and thoroughly enjoyed. Bravo, CEX, Bravo!