Sunday, July 14, 2024

Poppy’s Palace Arcade looks to instill a sense of nostalgia at Carolina Beach

Poppy's Palace Arcade is an homage to classic beach arcades, as well as owner Jim Kitts' grandfather, Poppy. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
Poppy’s Palace Arcade is an homage to classic beach arcades, as well as owner Jim Kitts’ grandfather, Poppy. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)

CAROLINA BEACH — If you grew up on the Carolina Coast, or vacationed to it in the summer, you more than likely have memories of classic beach arcades. The cacophony of prize sounds, to the feeling of having more tickets than you could hold, people have always reveled in the non-stop action an arcade provides.

To Jim “Jimbo” and Jennifer Kitts, the owners of “Poppy’s Palace Arcade” in Carolina Beach, that sense of nostalgia is exactly what they’re looking to bring out with their new business.

A sign hangs against one of the walls, in memory of Jim's grandparents, the inspiration behind Poppy's Palace Arcade. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
A sign hangs against one of the walls, in memory of Jim’s grandparents, the inspiration behind Poppy’s Palace Arcade. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)

“As a kid, I grew up going to the Outer Banks, and we’d go to the arcades up there all the time,” Jim Kitts said. “My grandad, Poppy, would save quarters throughout the whole year, and he’d come down to the beach with hundreds of dollars-worth of quarters, and he would just give quarters to us kids all the time.”

“And this was before we could be in the arcade by ourselves, so he’d actually take us down there and feed us quarters, we’d play video games, and he’d drink Pabst Blue Ribbon,” Kitts said. “Our kid’s grandfather’s name is ‘Poppy’ too, so it’s kind of carrying on that tradition.”

Hence the name, Poppy’s Palace, embroidered in a classic Pabst Blue Ribbon-style logo.

The Arcade

Poppy's Palace Arcade is located just across the Snow's Cut Bridge. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
Poppy’s Palace Arcade is located just across the Snow’s Cut Bridge. (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)

Despite the nod to “Pabst Blue Ribbon,” Poppy’s Palace is a family friendly establishment, with no alcohol allowed on the premises.

The Kitts also run Carolina Beach Realty, a rental property company based in Carolina Beach. They purchased the building with slightly different intentions, but after those plans didn’t work out, they decided to move forward with an arcade.

“We were like, ‘shoot, we have this building, and I have all these great memories of going to the beach and arcade as a kid, and now, here we are,” Jim Kitts said.

The arcade has 28 different machines, ranging from classics like Skee-Ball and air hockey, to new age virtual shooters like “Jurassic Park.”

Jennifer Kitts said the town of Carolina Beach has been extremely supportive of the couple’s venture, although some in the community were originally tentative to support the idea of a new arcade.

“This wasn’t any kind of competition to the one that burned down,” Jennifer said. “I think when we first started like a year ago, the news came to us like, ‘Are you opening because the other arcade burnt down?’ And that answer was a ‘no.’”

The Kitts say they plan to coexist with the boardwalk arcade, which burned down in September of 2014.

Poppy's Palace has 28 arcade machines, ranging from 'Skee-Ball,' to virtual shooters like "Jurassic Park." (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)
Poppy’s Palace has 28 arcade machines, ranging from ‘Skee-Ball,’ to virtual shooters like “Jurassic Park.” (Port City Daily photo/CORY MANNION)

“It just happened to come about, we know John West pretty well, the owner of the other arcade,” Jim Kitts said. “He’s going rebuild his and that’s great, but maybe everyone doesn’t want to go down to the beach.”

Dustin Robinson and India Setzer, two of the arcade’s employees, said that, while business has been great so far, they’re really expecting it to pick up in the coming weeks.

“It’s been really fun working here,” Robinson said. “We’re planning on having a lot of people this summer, it’s going to be great.”

According to Jim Kitts, the best part is watching kids walk in for the first time.

“It’s so cool to see kids walk in here and have their faces light up,” he said. “You can’t see in from the outside, so when they walk in, it just blows them away.”

Poppy’s Palace Arcade is open seven days a week, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., although it occasionally opens earlier. The arcade is located at 810 N. Lake Park Blvd. For more information, and to check out the latest arcade related news, follow Poppy’s Palace on Facebook.

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