When a new pinball machine arrives at Solid State Pinball Supply on Troost, they crack the case open to inspect it. Four hours and a three-page checklist later, they’re ready to start the restoration.
When it comes to pinball in KC, Solid State Pinball Supply is the name to know. They don’t just buy, sell and fix the games; they have a collection of games you can play on site, run a weekly league, host tournaments and place the machines in local bars, such as Pizza West and Knub’s Pub in Shawnee. Keri Wing, a world cham-pion women’s pinball player, is Solid State’s lead tech, so she repairs machines all over town. Nick Greenup runs the business side. But like those eighties economists said, it all starts with the supply side.
“We want people to come in, like a hardware store, and say, ‘Hey, this thing’s wrong with my pinball machine, do I need this or that?’” Greenup says. “We like to help people fix it themselves because if you’re going to own a pinball machine, you’re going to need to know a little bit or to pay someone, and there’s not too many people around.”
Greenup has been trying to establish a vital local pinball scene in KC for a decade now—Chicago and the Pacific Northwest are the world capitals—and says it’s starting to pick up critical mass, partly thanks to Solid State’s large new space on Troost. He wouldn’t have signed a lease on a large spot next to a pizzeria if he’d know the pandemic was coming, but he’s glad he did.
“When the pandemic hit, you couldn’t really go out and play,” Greenup says. “Even the few places that were still open and had games, they had them off. So people wanted them for their house that never thought they needed them for their house. The prices of everything skyrocketed worldwide. Stuff we had been paying three hundred bucks for years ago was now going for three and four thousand. I felt a little crazy for hoarding all this stuff for so long, but I’m glad I did.” If you’ve got an old machine in need of love, Solid State can definitely help. If you just want to play or throw a pizza party with beer and bumpers, they can help with that, too. If you want to buy a classic machine, better to wait out the current frenzy. “People come in here and see all these games and say, ‘What do you mean you don’t have anything for sale?’” Greenup says. “Well, things are crazy right now, but everything’s for sale if you throw me the right number.”
Photography by Kayla Szymanski