What sounds like a heart, pumps. Soon, laughter breaks in, punctuated with swift control movements. It’s dark, yet light still surrounds. 

Those heart pump sounds? They’re from an arcade cabinet, one of many inside Wieners & Losers in Winston-Salem, the largest private collection on the east coast of working Golden Age arcade games from the early 1980s.

There’s more than 120 cabinets to be found in the arcade — games from the ‘70s  to 1984. Everything from well-known hits such as Gyruss, Sinistar and Robotron: 2084 to others such as  Moon Patrol and  Gorf. Computer Space, the first arcade video game, is carefully preserved in all its fiberglass glory. 

Black lights drape down in one room. The limited light makes the lights and sounds all the more noticeable. There’s a feeling of walking through a colorful, lively and highly interactive museum. It’s on the verge of stimulus overload, but in a pleasing way. 

“I remember walking into my hometown arcade which was called Take 10 [in Mt. Airy] along with [Aladdin’s Castle] in Winston-Salem and feeling pure happiness,” said Scott Leftwich, the sole owner of Wieners & Losers, in an email. There was always something new and exciting to play.”

Leftwich, born in Mt. Airy and raised in Cana, Va., described going to the arcades as a highlight of his childhood. 

Back in the day, Leftwich and his peers walked into arcades with a feeling of “euphoria.” The sights and sounds of the games were “intoxicating.” 

Courtesy photo

“Arcades were the social media of its day,” he said. “That’s where all the kids hung out. The games were excellent and they were all the rage. I was seduced by the arcades and video games. That feeling never left me.”  

Leftwich himself bought his first arcade game, Frogger, in 1996. 

“At that time, the games had little to no value so I started purchasing games and storing them,” he said. “I taught myself to work on them and built a 1980s arcade man cave in my basement at my previous home in Galax, [Va.]. It was just for myself and my friends at the time.”

Leftwich, an ‘80s kid who had a “killer childhood”, has been collecting and restoring arcade machines for 26 years now, all of which are on display in his home. For those wanting to experience the nostalgia in full, they can request a booking through the Wieners & Losers website. Recently, a kid came all the way from Illinois just to spend his 11th birthday at the arcade. 

The epic collection of games isn’t the only thing awaiting visitors. 

When guests aren’t downstairs soaking up the arcade goodness, an ‘80s themed Airbnb waits for them upstairs.

Courtesy photo

“The Airbnb is a totally separate thing,” he explained in a Facebook message. “I don’t mix the two. I’ve never been open to the public outside of the ‘80s themed Airbnb. The Airbnb is open for booking at all times. Wieners & Losers is just something we do for fun on occasion.”

This vacation rental purrs of pop culture delights, too. Eighties fiends will be at home during their stay with an ‘80s stereo, a Nintendo Entertainment System, music posters plastered on the wood-paneled walls, comic books and more. 

It’s an organized and clean room projecting a calm atmosphere for folks to experience the artifacts from yesteryears. 

“It’s kind of an ‘80s celebration,” Leftwich said. 

Leftwich’s own infatuation for the ‘80s has paid off as his Airbnb has garnered national attention.  

In fact, guests have been booked from all over the United States plus Europe, Canada and even Australia. 

“There’s no place on Earth where you spend the night having access to every game console plus a massive arcade,” he said. 

Leftwich, who said making people feel good is a “real high” for him, is constantly humbled by the “volume of interest” from around our globe. A 12-year-old even hugged him when she left Wieners & Losers and said she knows she’s only 12, however, that day was the best day of her life.

“There have been so many good memories made here,” he said. “Friendships have been forged by people who visit regularly. People have cried when walking through the door because they are seeing and hearing things they haven’t seen or heard in decades.” 

To learn more, head over to longlivethe80s.com, which includes a direct link to the Airbnb.

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