By Xiomara Trinidad Perez
As nostalgic music played recently through the speakers at Retro Source in Farmingville, customers were welcomed by colorful walls, neon lights and a seemingly infinite number of retro games, toys and electronic devices from the 1980s through the late ’90s, with many items for sale paying homage to the TV shows, movies and music that defined the era.
The store opened in June 2022. Inside, patrons can find arcade games, game consoles and other collectibles, most from the years 1983 to 1997. Recreations of sets from the 1989 TV show “Saved by the Bell” and the blockbuster film “Back to the Future Part II” are showcased at the store.
“Whenever we first started out, like we did advertise word of mouth,” said the front-end manager, William Martin, “and then online as well a little bit. Most people whenever they came in here, they either were like, ‘Oh, hey, I didn’t know this place was back here,’ because it’s like a Scooby Doo ghost town in here sometimes. And then, obviously, like more and more people came in as soon as they heard about it, they tell their friends, they’d come in.”
Owner John Seitz started collecting what would become ’80s memorabilia as a child. According to Seitz, his love for collecting was passed down by his father, who used to collect old vinyl records.
“He used to bring me to a store in Islip called Avenue D Records where he and other collectors used to reminisce about ‘the good old days,'” Seitz said. “They would buy, sell and trade records while hanging out.”
As a kid, Seitz admired the dedication of his father and the other collectors, which gave him hope that he would one day have his own place for collectors like his father. Before opening the store, Seitz owned a construction company since 2008, which helped him in developing his vision for the store.
“As my collection grew and the demand for all things retro exploded during the pandemic, I figured now is definitely the time to get involved with such a place,” Seitz said, “and also utilize my construction background to build something unique that I want families to enjoy, taking a trip back to the ‘80s and ’90s.”
Martin is in charge of the store’s social media, finding creative ways to attract customers through Instagram, including using ’80s-style sketches and commercials to promote the store. He has created a unique character to star in each of the sketches.
As well as Seitz, Martin has a connection with the games and items at the store, as he recalls moments of his childhood back in his hometown in Indiana. “I remember watching all the TV shows. I got all my cousins’ hand-me-downs, so I ended up just having that ’80s vibe around me anyway, and ’80s music too, oh my God,” Martin said.
He added, “There aren’t many places for kids to hang out these days,” but Retro Source is just such a place.
According to Martin, Retro Source has become more than a store, but a hangout spot. He recalls how customers usually come to the store to talk, play the arcade games and reminisce about the good old days. One of those customers is DJ Carretta.
“I’m a regular here,” said Carretta. “I love hanging out and spending time here. It’s a cool environment, so many things to look at. Every time I come here I see something new still, all the time.”
Other customers like Jennifer Resnick just come to soak in and admire the store’s vibe. “My husband and my son came here first. They love it,” said Resnick. “And I knew nothing about the store. I came in. I think it’s great because I looked online, and I’m like 51, so I’m like into it’s all this stuff.”