Best Buds Gaming Lounge

As Hugh and Alexis Newmark manage their shop, a little brown package arrives. It has been sent from Germany, which could only mean one thing. Giddy with excitement, they carefully open it on the bar. It’s the European version of the classic video game Super Nintendo, with a miniaturized console and controllers. The Newmarks love it.

Not only do they have a rare, new console, but they also get to share it.

The Newmarks are the owners of Best Buds Gaming Lounge, a place to play games, grab a beer, play the trading card game Magic the Gathering, or just hang out.

When entering Best Buds, gamers have options. They could spend $5 and play for an hour. They could spend $15 and stay the whole day (and nearly whole night — Best Buds closes as late as 1 a.m. Saturdays if they wanted. If they were really jazzed about the place, they could go big and pay $45 for a whole month.

As a new hub for the emerging gaming community in the Bellingham area, Best Buds holds an impressive game library, surpassing 1,800 individual titles, Hugh said. But these aren’t all contemporary escapes designed for cutting-edge consoles like the Nintendo Switch or the Playstation 4 (both of which they have). Best Buds has managed to preserve and share games dating back all the way to 1979.

Best Buds patrons can follow that timeline through a diverse library of almost 2,000 games and 20 consoles spanning decades of gaming. So, whether you game for nostalgia, adventure, competition or sharing, there’s a controller for you at Best Buds.

Gathering such an impressive library wasn’t easy. Alex and Hugh, who are married, have spent more than a year hunting down video games from traders all over the world.

“I quit my job to buy video games,” Alex said, laughing.

Their aim was to create a place where anyone could come, feel safe, and play games. On any given day, you might find a group of 10-year-olds hunched around Halo or elderly women dropping by to play Pac-Man. Moms are also known to drop by to drink a glass of wine or play Duck Hunt, a parent favorite. “We’re all 10 at heart,” Alex said.

But Best Buds isn’t simply an arcade. At 8 p.m., the place switches gears, kindly ending the sessions of minors and becoming a beer-and-wine bar in addition to a gaming center. The bar serves a couple wines and a variety of beers brewed locally, from Aslan’s Batch 15 to Boundary Bay’s Cedar Dust to Kulshan Sunnyland IPA. For those who don’t wish to break the bank, there’s also a classic Rolling Rock behind the bar. A menu titled “Junk Food” helps break long periods of gaming, with candies, chicken products, and pizza rolls providing a snack cache many kids dream of.

So why lounge at Best Buds when you can lounge at home? Well, Best Buds allows for members of the gaming community to merge their passions for gaming in-person and over a beer. They clean up after you’re done. They replace all the broken parts and they put back the games, all so you don’t have to. Best Buds even arranges a handful of monthly events to spur community participation, competitiveness, and camaraderie. Halo nights and anime viewings happen often and their Super Smash Brothers tournament at one point drew 90 contestants, hailing from as far away as Vancouver and Seattle.

The Newmarks are excited to see themselves and Best Buds as part of a growing community of gamers in the Bellingham area, welcoming gamers and games alike.

1121 McKenzie Ave., Bellingham
360.398.6183 | bestbudslounge.com

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"Best Buds patrons can follow that timeline through a diverse library of almost 2,000 games and 20 consoles spanning decades of gaming."