FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Nicholas Pando has two minimum wage jobs, one at a video game store and a clerk gig at a local real estate firm, that combine fun and, hopefully, a career path.

Nearly all of Pando’s time is dedicated to work, more than 40 hours a week. He is paid Arkansas minimum wage of $8.50 an hour for both jobs. “I am my grandma’s assistant at Lindsey Real Estate, so whenever she needs me to go and sort paperwork, I will go and work there,” Pando said.

                                                                             Nicholas Pando explains how to play his favorite game, Magic. Photo: Mary Kerr Winters

Pando, 22, said he has flexible hours at Dragon’s Keep, which sells video games and comics, making it easier to have two jobs at once. With his paycheck, Pando said he definitely classifies himself in the lower class, and “on some days upper lower class.”

Pando lives with his mother and the rest of his younger siblings in Springdale. Although he is not paying rent, Pando pays for his own insurance, phone bill and car.  “Living the way that I live, I would not be able to pay my own rent right now. With the expenses and student loans I have to pay off, it would not be possible,” he said.

The video game store job keeps him plugged in with a local gamers. “Working at Dragon’s Keep has been one of the greatest ways to have community,” Pando said. “Between working here and playing here you see and meet a lot of people.”


One of his responsibilities at Dragon’s Keep is to take care of the many cats that roam around the store. “Other than shop keeping, someone has to take care of the cats,” he laughed.

His favorite game is “Magic,” even though he has played other games competitively, such as Pokémon. His biggest goal right now is to pass his real estate exams to eventually become an agent. For the time being, Pando said he plans to “take it one step at a time … It is best to make the most of what money you have just because there is always something you are missing.”