Virginia Wong has enjoyed a wonderful career in fashion.
Today she manages digital strategy and local emerging markets for Louis Vuitton Americas. She also spent 5 years on the advisory strategy team for L Brands’ CEO.
Growing up though, she felt surrounded by social pressures. Even her main hobby — tennis — was competitive.
She found solace at Arnie’s Place. The video game arcade — it’s Ulta today, next to Balducci’s — offered a “true, pressure-free escape.” Virginia roamed the vast space without supervision or worry. The lights and noises were “transporting.” Everyone was having a great time playing games; there was little social friction.
She was more into Skee-Ball, Ms. Pac-Man and the claw machine than true video games, but it was a fantastic time anyway. She finds it hard to imagine kids having a similar experience today.
Later, whenever she returned to Connecticut, she decompressed by driving around. She’d go to the beach, get a hot dog at Rawley’s, cruise past the Athena Diner. Those rituals felt “right.”
Every time Viriginia drove by what was then Anthropologie, she thought of Arnie’s.
When she did that recently, she remembered Arnie Kaye’s fight against “the power.” Parents worried that a video arcade would somehow corrupt their kids. Politicians followed their lead.
During his battle to open, Arnie hired someone to dress as Pac-Man, and hand out money to anyone wearing an “I support Arnie’s Place” t-shirt.
Virginia wanted to memorialize it. And she still had an Arnie’s Place t-shirt, with cut-off sleeves.
She decided to make a couple of new ones. A friend who is head of graphics for American Eagle helped her get the design right — including the back with a very ’80s-style design, and Arnie’s iconic “token” logo on the front.
Screen printed on Gildan heavy cotton in small batches, they’re available through Virginia’s Instagram and Etsy accounts. She’s branded those pages “Class Trip,” a tribute to the significant backdrops of her youth.
As anyone who grew up at Arnie’s Place in its heyday knows: It was quite a trip!