|Caine Monroy at work (cainesarcade.com (Nirvan Mullick))|
Caine Monroy is not afraid of hard work. The 9-year-old East
Los Angeles resident had a dream, to build his own arcade business out of the
discarded cardboard boxes in his father's small auto parts shop. It took him a
year to bring his dream to life, averaging about one game per month. "I'd work
on them on Saturdays," he said.
A shy boy with a sweet smile and an exuberant imagination,
Caine had little trouble devising his homespun games, making displays for his
prizes, or hand labeling paper lunch gift bags to hold the prizes. The
challenge lay in getting customers. His father's business had struggled in the
post-recession economy, and received little foot traffic.
It was a unique stroke of luck that brought filmmaker Nirvan
Mullick to the store, in search of used parts for his '96 Corolla. He was
surprised to find a cardboard arcade at the front of the shop, along with a
precocious young entrepreneur. Mullick asked Caine how the arcade worked, and was told that
for $1 he could get two turns, or for $2 he could get a Fun Pass worth 500
turns. Mullick purchased the Fun Pass.
Quickly recognizing the passion of a fellow creative,
Mullick was so impressed with Caine's work that he made a short documentary
film about him, Caine's Arcade. The
end result would dramatically change both of their lives, for the better.
After premiering the film at DIY Days, Mullick posted his
short online, and it went viral in a big way. The 11-minute film received over
3.5 million views on Vimeo and YouTube in just four days. Hundreds of online
articles about the video followed, leading to television stories about the cardboard
arcade by Fox, NBC and CNN. Flashmobs crowded for a chance to visit the Arcade.
Mullick had started a scholarship fund for Caine in
conjunction with the film's release,
with an initial goal of raising $25,000 to finance his education. The
first day the film was posted, over $60,000 was raised. A week later, Mullick
and his producers received a matching dollar-for-dollar seed funding grant of
$250,000 from the Goldhirsh Foundation to help start the Caine's Arcade Imagination Foundation, with a mission of supporting the education and
creative work innovative kids. At present they have raised over $216,000, with
their target goal clearly in sight.
Meanwhile, Caine has become a celebrity and inspiration to
kids around the world. Teachers have been showing Caine's Arcade in classrooms around the world, inspiring D.I.Y.
creations from students that range from cardboard bubble gum machines to a photocopier with a little person inside that draws whatever
is laid on top of it.
In honor of Caine's achievements, Mullick's Imagination Foundation is now launching
the first ever Global Cardboard Challenge, inviting the world to "to build anything awesome out of cardboard, recycled
materials, and imagination." Mullick and his staff are currently busy encouraging
young people and schools around the world to organize and build original works
for the event. On October 6th, the young artists' friends,
family, co-workers and community members will come out to play at local events
celebrating the creativity and imagination of kids around the world.
Participants will be encouraged to raise money for charity at these events,
paying forward their passion and hard work.
As for Caine, he continues to balance his commitments with
the simple joys of running his own business. Though his work is sometimes interrupted
by media interviews, requests to attend various events and homework, Caine's
Cardboard Arcade remains open most weekends and sometimes during the summer on
weekdays. Customers are always welcome.
Page created on 7/29/2014 3:00:30 PM
Last edited 1/6/2017 8:07:02 PM
Caine's Arcade can currently be found within The Smartpants Aftermarket at 538 N. Mission Rd Boyle Heights, CA 90033.