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Rancho Cordova, CA (MPG)  |  Story and Photos by Jacqueline Fox
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Christopher Knecht, owner of Back to The 80s Store & More in Rancho Cordova, is enjoying a successful first year in business and preparing for relocation to a larger space in fall 2017. After a successful first year in business, Christopher Knecht is preparing to move his company, Back to The 80s Store & More to a larger facility in fall and expand it to include a vintage arcade and night club.

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Christopher Knecht enjoys an ice cold TAB, one of the half a dozen retro drinks on sale in his store featuring 1980s era memorabilia, including some of the plush toys and dolls he’s cuddled up with.

Back to the 80's Store Has Expansion in Its Future

1980’s memorabilia is so hot, just one year after opening its doors Rancho Cordova’s Back to the 80s Store & More is preparing for the future with a fall relocation and expansion to accommodate a larger collection, as well as a new retro video game arcade for all ages during the day and a 21-and over nightclub.

“It’s been an amazing year,” says Christopher Knecht, 39, who opened the store in March of 2016 after a career in the restaurant management industry. His store’s success mirrors what’s going on across the memorabilia sector nationwide. While clothing, jewelry and housewares are losing some market share to online retailers who can offer fast shipping and steep discounts, brick and mortar memorabilia stores remain somewhat insulated. Sales for the store tripled in the first three months and have increased 30 percent in the last quarter.

“I think people want to come in to the store and have an experience that you can’t get online,” said Knecht. “They can buy stuff on eBay or another site, but customers tell me all the time they love buying in person because they want to see what we have and have a personal experience of nostalgia, not just for themselves but also with their kids.”

The store offers a vast collection of 1980s era collectables, including band posters from the likes of Duran Duran and The Bangles, walls of plush E.T. toys and others from the era, replicas of Pee Wee Herman’s fuzzy blue chair, Star Wars memorabilia, vintage T-shirts, retro jewelry, sunglasses and other totally awesome accessories, as well as trading cards, toys, candy and drinks. On third Saturdays, the store features a parking lot party with celebrity guests, art, cover bands, food trucks and a costume contest.

Knecht has secured a lease for a 4,000 square foot space near the current location. He’s planning for a fall grand re-opening and will be significantly expanding his memorabilia collection. But the new space will be more than just a store. Knecht is bringing in roughly 60 vintage arcade games, including Pac-Man, Ms. Pac-Man and old school Xbox with dual controls, and will be running the space as a family arcade and store during the day for all ages. There also will be TVs throughout the new store, blasting out retro music videos and classic cartoons, as well as a Slush Puppie machine.

“You gotta love the original Slush Puppy,” Knecht said.

After 9 p.m., the store and arcade will shift to a 21-and-over music venue called “Club Retro” with a full bar and live bands dedicated to the era. Berlin, perhaps most famous for its break out hit “The Metro,” is already signed on for a performance, and there are plans for monthly concerts with other heavy hitters, such as Tears for Fears and The B-52s, as well as weekly gigs featuring 80s tribute bands.

“I am reliving my own youth in this adventure,” says Knecht, who explained he got his start in the shop when his father passed on a collectables business to him after inheriting an antique business from his father before him. “My grandfather really started all of this, and then my dad took it over. He would buy antiques and vintage stuff, but he also would buy us toys and things as kids, and when he did, he often bought two of them. That’s how the collection started growing.”

When Knecht took over the business from his father he knew he wanted to focus on the era of his own youth. The collection in the store is only a fraction of what he and his father amassed and the collection changes weekly. With sales as brisk as they are, Knecht said he’s more than ready to move to larger digs.

 “We have already been working with the city for permits and they have been just great to us,” Knecht said, adding that the current location will remain open as construction and final touches are put on the new store and club, which he anticipates will happen in late fall.

“We hope to be up-and-running in the new location in November.”

While sales have far exceeded his expectations, Knecht said the store is truly a labor of love. To be able to expand and take the business to a new level, he says, are simply icing on the cake.

“I didn’t put any of this together to get rich,” Knecht said. “I’m doing this to create an experience. If I can get someone to say to me that they were having a rough day but that coming into the store brought a smile to their face, that’s what makes it all worthwhile for me.”