Knapp's brings back arcade, adds local band performances


BENNINGTON —Before the internet and smartphones, kids played board games and vinyl records. Some of which can't be bought at big box stores, but can always be found at Knapp's on Main Street.

This summer, Knapp's brought back its arcade, and added a performance space for local bands, as part of the Downtown Bennington Revitalization Committee.

Jayne Outwater and her husband have owned the establishment for 16 years and implemented the arcade for the past few summers. Talk for the new side addition for bands and kids to play games came up about a month ago, Outwater said.

"I think it'll be a nice component and hopefully bring more locals downtown," she said. "Back when there wasn't internet...this was the place for locals. It's going to be nice to get it back."

Knapp's used to have a pet store, but it closed three years ago. It now sells guitars, banjos, mandolins, ukuleles, amps, accessories, vinyl records, toys, games and puzzles as well as models and rockets for hobbies.

The store at 417 Main St. has an overall Yelp review of three and a half stars. One of the two reviews from last September reads, "I love this store! I grew up in Bennington and I remember the original location on Northside Drive 30 years ago. The current owners have done a great job making it better than ever. My favorite part is the guitar section and I've bought seven guitars there over the years."

The other is a two star review from 2011 rating it a "Very mediocre pet store in a not-so-happening town."

No schedule for bands has been released, but Outwater said there are some that are interested in performing in the new space. A lineup will be formed starting June 1.

In the new space, vinyl records hang from the ceiling while four old-fashioned arcade games sit in the front near the window. Eventually, Outwater hopes to remove the front window so the venue can be open to the street.

"There's a lot of local bands and college students. Bennington College has a lot of student musicians," she said. "It'll be a good place for younger people."

Knapp's will host a variety of bands who play classic rock, acoustic, covers and others on Friday nights. On Saturday afternoon, Pavlov's Dogs and Psychedelic Grunge performed.

The arcade and music will run into fall, but remain seasonal. Musical performances are free and the arcade games cost about $.50 to $1.

The Downtown Bennington Revitalization Committee runs under the Better Bennington Corporation and focuses on design, economic development, marketing and promotions and organization. There is also a Business Recruitment, Business Retention and Arts & Entertainment Committee as a part of the Downtown program, according to Better Bennington's website. It reads, "Each of these areas strengthens the downtown economy, fostering the continued use of existing commercial buildings while promoting and preserving downtown Bennington's unique assets, charm, and history."

Knapp's is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and noon to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Find KnappsVT on Facebook for more information.

—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.


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