Only a month after opening their pop-up shop in Maotef Gifts (997 N. High St.), owners Anthony Locke and Shane Mack of the anime retail shop and arcade Gotcha Gachapon are outgrowing their Short North digs. After meeting at an anime convention in 2008, Mack and Locke decided to bring the convention and Japanese arcade atmosphere to a static setting. Featuring rare rhythm-based arcade games (think "Dance Dance Revolution") and anime-inspired toys, Gotcha Gachapon aims to bring convention-level energy to Columbus on a daily basis.

Only a month after opening their pop-up shop in Maotef Gifts (997 N. High St.), owners Anthony Locke and Shane Mack of the anime retail shop and arcade Gotcha Gachapon are outgrowing their Short North digs. After meeting at an anime convention in 2008, Mack and Locke decided to bring the convention and Japanese arcade atmosphere to a static setting. Featuring rare rhythm-based arcade games (think “Dance Dance Revolution”) and anime-inspired toys, Gotcha Gachapon aims to bring convention-level energy to Columbus on a daily basis.

“Gachapon” refers to vending machines filled with toys. The name is actually an onomatopoeia of the sound the machine makes when you put your money in and the prize comes out. They are really popular in the gaming district in Japan. Most of the time [the Gachapon machines] are filled with undesirable stuff, so we decided to get our own and fill them with cool anime toys.

People seemed confused about Gotcha Gachapon at first. Maybe it’s because we’re mixed in with Maotef Gifts’ merchandise, but when people first check us out they don’t seem to get what we are doing. We want to be more than a retail store; we want to provide a slice of the entertaining atmosphere you can only get at conventions. After we expand we plan on adding more games and hopefully offer Bubble Tea. The experience at a convention is so different than anything else, and that’s why we are doing this; so we could live that experience every day.

We want to revitalize the concept of an arcade. In Japan, arcade gaming is huge; here in the United States, it’s sort of dying. Retro gaming has become popular again, but we wanted to bring in some rare rhythm-based arcade games. When everything is said and done, we should have eight arcade games ready to go. We’re getting in “Pop N’ Music,” “Super Table Flip,” and “Dance Dance Revolution” among others. We’re most excited about “Silent Hill”; there are only a few in the United States. Ideally, we want to build a miniature gaming district.

We have so much inventory, we’re running out of space. There aren’t many places selling anime products outside of conventions, so our biggest problem so far has been keeping up with demand. We were definitely surprised at how well it took off; people were driving in from Michigan and Cincinnati to check it out. We are already almost at capacity now, and we have a lot more large arcade games and product coming in, so we are looking to move by early next year. Columbus has a strong anime fan base that’s been starving for product; if we want to bring it to them, we are going to need a bigger space to do it. We’ve actually started a Kickstarter campaign to get our own store front in the Short North.

Photo by Meghan Ralston