MOM’s, the new mecca of pinball

The new Pinball machines in MOM’s Organic Market in College Park are drawing gaming lovers from all over the area. (Photo courtesy of Ndeye Aminata Ndiaye)

The new Pinball machines in MOM’s Organic Market in College Park are drawing gaming lovers from all over the area. (Photo courtesy of Ndeye Aminata Ndiaye)

Lodged between the Naked Lunch bar and dining area, a familiar sound arises from the rustle of shopping carts: Pinball. Yes, Pinball. The new and improved MOM’s Organic Market in College Park is becoming the new hotspot for Pinball lovers.

MOM’s is known for its fresh produce and vegan selection. Since renovation at the beginning of the summer, the store has been offering a new way for parents to shop with tranquility, installing an arcade area. The Pinball machines come from the personal collection of MOM’s founder and University of Maryland graduate Scott Nash.

Nash is a veteran and regular player in the Pinball world. He started to play as a teenager at Beltsville Billiards. He started his Pinball collection in 2012 and brought it to his store to share his love for the game. Although Nash said it was not a marketing strategy to have a Pinball room in the store, he is aware of the the attention it is getting for his establishment.

“Frankly, we are now in the golden age of Pinball manufacturing,” Nash said. “So many excellent games are being produced by so many different manufacturers now. New games come out with outstanding designs and playfields that it's difficult not to purchase them. My collection has grown over the years and I really needed a place to store them more than anything else. And we had the surplus of space at our new College Park store, so that's where I've put them. It's a pleasure as well for me to share the joy of Pinball with the public.”

Storage is not his only motivation. Nash often hosts tournaments in College Park to connect the Pinball community. Douglas Nembhard has re-discovered his love for playing since the instillation of the Pinball room. A realtor with RE/MAX, Nembhard is a frequent shopper at MOM’s. Nembhard travels from Capitol Heights, just outside Washington, D.C., to the store to get a free cup of coffee and blow off steam.

“Competitive Pinball is a ton of fun,” Nembhard said. “The Pinball community is also rather strong. I enjoy hanging out with other Pinball players so that's drawn me into the competitive arena even more.

“Pinball is a fun way to blow off some steam. I really love to hear that ‘pop’ when I win a free game. My work requires enough screen time. When I saw the Pinball machines on opening day, I was thrilled.”

With the increasing number of parents concerned about the time that children are spending in front of the screen and gaming systems, Nash believes that Pinball machines are different. According to Nash, the art of playing Pinball is different from playing with a gaming console, like a PlayStation.

“I believe iPhones, online gaming and most screens these days are doing substantial damage to not just individuals, but society in general,” Nash said. “Anxiety and depression have spiked with increased Internet and iPhone use, and I think screens have also led to the current threat to democracy. Playing Pinball is physical and social, not nearly as addictive as video gaming. I don't see a downside to becoming a passionate player.”