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Pensacola’s go-to boutique for amusement aficionados is closing its doors.

Bobe’s Amusement House, tucked in a asleep band capital in Ensley, is auctioning off the butt of its account Saturday, the store’s final day of business.

“We’ve had our ups and downs,” buyer Mike Bobe confided. “It’s been 65 years and it’s been an amazing, fun ride.”

A afterlife of archetypal airplanes abeyant from the shop’s beam symbolizes what Bobe’s has artificial over bisected a century. Its barter begin a abating haven for their hobbies and an arrangement of games. But times accept changed.

“The admirers for this has shrunk,” Bobe said. “People aren’t accomplishing things themselves anymore.”

Terry Bobe, left, helps a chump at Bobe’s Amusement House in Pensacola in this best photo. The iconic abundance is closing and auctioning off its account starting Saturday. (Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/[email protected])

What became Bobe’s Amusement House began as a post-war boutique run by Elmer Peterson in Brownsville. Peterson awash the business to a new owner, and Mike Bobe’s grandfather, T.C. Bobe, a Navy retiree, took over in 1954.

“When my dad (the backward Terry Bobe) was 13, they bought the store,” Mike Bobe recalled. “He was all aflame that his ancestors was activity to own a amusement shop. The aboriginal affair they did was duke him a broom.

T.C. Bobe renamed the boutique afterwards the ancestors and broadcast its area at 3319 Mobile Highway abreast the western end of Brownsville’s business core. Artificial models and trains were the acerbity at the time, but T.C. Bobe added art supplies, abundantly accretion his clientele. He had the exoteric repainted and it became accepted as “the big blooming building.”

By 1967 aback Mike Bobe was born, Bobe’s Amusement House had become a accurate ancestors enterprise. While T.C. was the owner, his son, Terry, operated the business, his across-the-board canicule abaft him. Mike was alien to the abundance at age 4.

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“My actual aboriginal job was bagging chaplet for 2 cents a bag,” he said. “I was appealing abundant built-in into it.”

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A box of best models is pictured beforehand this ages at Bobe’s Amusement House on Nine Mile Alley in Pensacola. (Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/[email protected])

But the ’70s was not a acceptable time for the neighborhood. Owing to the allurement of the malls and the assailment of civic brands, Brownsville’s downtown-like row of shops and eateries, was actuality neglected. Vacant storefronts afford abomination and bane and by the ’80s the “big blooming building” took the hint. Terry Bobe did a chase and begin a armpit on a newly-built addendum of W Street.  

“He took a map and drew circles apparent and that was the exact centermost of town,” Mike Bobe explained. “You can go 5 afar out and not blow water. He said, ‘Let’s be in ambit of everybody.’ “

The acreage was on an abortive amplitude of road, accouterment a bare slate for the store’s approaching and a compensation of new barter funneled in from the proposed circle nearby.

“When we best W Street, we knew Airport Boulevard was eventually activity to appear through,” Mike Bobe recalled.

The new building, opened in 1982, was alert the admeasurement of the original, acceptance the business to aggrandize with added ability supplies, artificial models and block decorating. Today, Bobe angle this aeon as the store’s heyday aback babyish boomers were rediscovering their adolescence hobbies.

Bobe’s Amusement House is pictured at its additional area at 5919 North W St., area it was amid from 1982-2014. (Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/[email protected])

But with the acceleration of video amateur and added electronics, a adolescent admirers for hands-on crafts was on the decline. Plus, there was the advancing claiming of befitting up with new trends.

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“We consistently adapted over the years,” Bobe said. “Once aloft a time, we were into dollhouses. In the backward ’70s, aboriginal ’80s that became a accepted abundant fad that a agglomeration of little dollhouse shops opened up.”

As Bobe’s connected a new hobby, specialization would generally band it away. Afterwards it alien Dungeons and Dragons and a growing archive of derivatives in the aboriginal ’80s, Koby’s Amateur on South Palafox became the genre’s assumption center.

“A able point for us was that we had so abounding categories — crafts, trains, artificial models,” Bobe said. “Generally, if one was down, one of the others was up. Something would antithesis out.”

Later, ability food like Michael’s, Amusement Lobby and JOANN, with their actual cast presence, siphoned added barter away. In the aboriginal 2000s, box food took advantage of lath games. Target was able to acumen an absolute adaptation of Star Trek Catan, an alluring accession to the sci-fi canon. Bobe’s had to cull aback and baby to alcove audiences, like the aggressive buffs who chock-full in for archetypal kits of ships and planes.   

In 2014, Bobe confused the abundance to its final area in Ensley as W Street had acquired into a cursory pass-through.

“My thoughts were that affective up actuality into a arcade centermost would accord us added bottom traffic,” he said. “I had dreams that Harbor Freight barter would appear in and be a cross-over audience. Sadly, the chat did not get out about the move. A lot of bodies aloof affected we were there for 32 years and if you’re not there, you charge be gone.”

But affairs hobbies may not be the store’s alone legacy. It can be accustomed with accepting congenital a bounded association of gamers, modelers and crafters of all stripes. 

“I accept abstruse so abundant acknowledgment to Bobe’s,” said Chris Craveiro, a longtime customer. “I acclimated to be a simple modeler. I’ve become so abundant bigger because of the community.”

Craveiro and his fiancee Candace Minton were additionally admirers of the agenda game, Fluxx. Aftermost year, Bobe alien them to the game’s creators at Pensacon.

“It was amazing,” Craveiro said. “My fiancee absolutely exhausted the creators of their game.”

Owner Mike Bobe, left, and agent Khang Hoang attending over a box of best models Jan. 13 at Bobe’s Amusement House in Pensacola. (Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/[email protected])

William Brandenburg started tabletop gaming in 2007 and begin a home abroad from home at Bobe’s. He becoming a amount in business and connected his amusement but noticed that the abundance wasn’t a acceptable acquisition abode for gamers.

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“There wasn’t a abode big abundant to game,” he said.

With his ability of the growing industry, he opened Level Up Gaming aftermost April on Creighton Road. His boutique is addition archetype of a Bobe’s spin-off, in agreement of business and in spirit. His abundance is a hub for aggressive fantasia with 32 tables of alternate play. Barter can aces up models from their admired games, or bigger yet, allow in action with strangers in Warhammer 40,000. Level Up Gaming’s agenda is abounding of tournaments and they’ve already had two bells receptions.

Perhaps it could date a bells itself?

“Let me be accessible continued abundant and that’ll happen,” Brandenburg said.

Bobe’s Amusement House on Nine Mile Alley in Pensacola is closing its doors afterwards added than six decades. (Photo: Gregg Pachkowski/[email protected])

Bobe, meanwhile, started ambagious bottomward his business. Aftermost March, he started alive at Lowe’s while still disposed to the boutique and fabricated the boxy accommodation to abutting aftermost summer. 

“I’m activity to accept weekends off for the aboriginal time in my life,” he said. “I’m affectionate of aflame about that. It’s a apricot affectionate of thing. It’s adamantine to let it go.”

He laments the canicule of hands-on craftmanship aback one can, per the store’s tagline, “Relax with a hobby.” Now, 3- D printers can artlessly discharge out a book of a dystopian prop. But through it all, he’s appreciative of Bobe’s enduring impact. 

“It’s like a allotment of the burghal is activity to be missing,” said Craveiro. “It’s activity to be adamantine but the association they helped body will still be there.”

Bobe’s Amusement House is amid at 2 E. Nine Mile Road, Suite 11. The final bargain starts at 2 p.m. Saturday. The abundance can be accomplished at 850-433-2187.

Mike Roberts is a freelance biographer for the Pensacola News Journal.

Read or Share this story: https://www.pnj.com/story/news/2020/01/24/bobes-hobby-house-pensacola-prepares-close-its-doors/4556080002/

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