Video lounge appeals to kids of all ages

Barbara Hootman

From geeks to game-lovers, Apex Game Lounge and Art Loft in Black Mountain is a hit, one that supports kids doing well in school.

Daron James and his mother, Freida Edmondson, opened Apex Game Lounge and Art Loft located at 112-B Cherry Street, in the same parking lot as My Fathers Pizza and Dripolator, a year ago. The business is open every day except Tuesday from noon until the kids go home.

“We have lived in Black Mountain for the past four years, and I have another business in Asheville,” James said. “I talked to some kids around town and found out they had no place to hang out with each other, and didn’t have much entertainment. When I went on the Black Mountain Ghost Tour I talked to three or four kids, and they said they had nothing to do but go to the coffee and ice cream shops. That’s when my mother and I decided to open Apex.”

Edmondson and James stocked Apex with video games, posters, art and disc golf supplies, T-shirts, movies and an art loft which is rapidly becoming a video museum. There is also art displayed on the walls with comic book themes.

There are several video games to play, from the original Nintendo console to Xbox One to Playstation 4. Flat screen TVs stand ready.

“We have video games, disc golf, action figures, pop figures and vintage comic books,” James said. “We are really pleased with the reception that we’ve gotten from the community. Apex is a safe place for kids to come and stay out of trouble. We hope the kids will learn a little about the history of gaming while they are having a good time.”

James and Edmondson have established a rewards system that entices kids to do their homework and come to the Apex for free video game playing.

“If the kids do their homework daily and get their parents to sign off on it, they can play a video game for an hour free,” James said. “Parents have control over the time their kids spend at Apex.”

“The reward system doesn’t just work with public school students, but home school, ArtSpace Charter and other schools,” Edmondson said. “For the kids with the highest GPA (grade point average), there are free games for them and a couple of their friends. We support the Hoofbeat (Owen High School’s newspaper) by taking out a half page ad in each issue.”

“It is all about incentives to study and then play,” James said. “I want kids to learn to use more and more technology, but to relate to each other and actually talk to each other. Indulging in the virtual world is good as long as kids continue to relate to each other.

“We planned from the time we opened the doors at Apex to give back to the kids in the community as much as possible,” he said. “We appeal to ages 5-50, and to people from all walks of life.”