Photos and Text by Nicholas Forgione
After more than 20 years of selling toy soldiers, board games, books and hobby supplies, the Hobby Bunker is retreating from 33 Exchange Street.
From its cavernous location beneath “the old CVS” at the eastern end of Pleasant Street, the Hobby Bunker was a place for local gamers and hobbyists to meet for games, show off their work in the store’s display cases, and purchase stuff for their hobbies. The Hobby
Bunker is also one of the last places in Malden, other than Stop & Shop and Walgreens, that sells books.
According to its website, The Hobby Bunker will relocate on April 1 in Wakefield at 103 Albion St.
For Al, a Malden resident and long-time employee who asked that his last name not be used, this is more than a business relocation. “It is kind of crazy. I have been coming here since I was a kid.”
For Al, the Bunker leaving Malden represents the end of an institution. The gaming tables are a meeting place, similar to a local bar.
The staff knows its customers: Al has a pretty good idea what projects customers are working on, because they ask him about the paint and other components they plan to use. Another employee, Evan (who asked that his last name not be used) knows what games people are playing or what action figures they collect, because he has had a few conversations with them about their hobby.
“There are a lot of good memories here. But Malden is changing ,” Al said.
One of those changes is for the block that holds 22 Pleasant Street, 33 Exchange Street and the space beneath the old CVS. A multi-story, mixed-use development will take the place of the Hobby Bunker, On the Road Again Pre-School, the Mosque and other businesses.
Hobby Bunker will close its doors on March 15; curbside pick-up will be available until March 23. (Be sure to call ahead, 781-321-8855.)
By April 1 Al, and the Bunker’s loyal Malden customers, will have a longer trip to Wakefield. And Malden Square will have lost an institution.