If you have fond memories of Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, the iconic Farmington Hills business could use your help.
Marvin Yagoda’s son, Jeremy, grew up appreciating his pharmacist father’s passion for coin-operated machines and oddities. Since 1980, the collection has been stored at a 5,500-square-foot space in the Hunter’s Square shopping center at 14 Mile and Orchard Lake Roads. A recent carpet replacement revealed original brick from when the center was known as Tally Hall.
Jeremy took over the business after his father died in 2017. Typically open 365 days a year, Marvin’s closed long-term only once, when the shopping center was remodeled around 1990.
Yagoda never imagined closing the doors again. Then COVID-19 hit, and on March 24, Governor Gretchen Whitmer shuttered all non-essential Michigan businesses.
“The (executive) order came through in the middle of the day,” he said. “My staff’s like, what are we doing, and I said, ‘We’re going to close. We have no choice.’.”
While other businesses have come back through Michigan’s phased re-opening plan, Marvin’s and other entertainment venues are still waiting, as rent and other bills pile up. Yagoda said he initially declined crowdfunding help offered by customers.
“My dad was always very philanthropic,” he said. “He was never a taker, always a giver. But it’s at the point where I definitely need to do something… My landlord is one of the largest in the U.S. They have bills to pay, too.”
In just two days, a GoFundMe.com campaign has raised nearly a third of its $75,000 goal. According to the campaign page, even while closed, expenses run well over $10,000 a month for rent, electrical service, and maintenance on the machines. Many are antiques; one is more than 100 years old.
Yagoda said he looks forward to the day when he can once again open the doors of Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum. He misses his 20 employees, almost all high school students, who have stayed in touch throughout the shut down.
“Most of them are very eager to come back,” he said. “They like working here over the other jobs that are out there for kids their age.”
Yagoda sees a future dependent on safety practices and requiring masks, at least until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes available. He said state, county, and city officials will decide what’s needed, and “we’ll just follow the course.”
Most importantly, though, he does see a future.
“I just signed a five-year lease last year, and I made sure I had an option for another five years in there,” Yagoda said. “Lots of people thought when my father passed that we’d be closing, but no. We’re not going anywhere.”
To help Marvin’s Marvelous Mechanical Museum, visit gofundme.com/f/marvins-marvelous-mechanical-museum.