ModCloth Staffer Cryss Moonlights As a Pinball Pro

Sure, you’ve seen snapshots of our employees on our blog and Instagram, but have you ever wondered what makes them tick? Today, we’re focusing on a fab ModEmployee that makes ModCloth the amazing place that it is.

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If you’ve returned something to ModCloth in the past year, you might have had the pleasure of getting a cheery reply from Cryss, a Returns Associate in our Pittsburgh Fulfillment Center. Not only is Cryss an enthusiastic member of our team, he also has a secret night identity as a competitive pinball player – he’s ranked number 14 in the world at the moment by the International Flipper Pinball Association. Read on to learn more about Cryss, and tell us who you’d like us to Spotlight next:

Tell us what you do as a Returns Associate here at ModCloth.
Oh, you know. I process returns. When something gets returned for one reason or another, there is a chance I will get it on my desk. I check the order, examine the returned items, and give the person a refund.

How did you find out about ModCloth?
I found out about it when one of my friends posted on Facebook about the fact that they got a job here doing what I was doing at my old job. I heard this is a great company to work for, so I thought it would be a great experience.

What’s your favorite thing about what you do?
I really enjoy the challenge of it. You tend to get a lot of curve balls thrown your way. Sometimes you have to dig really deep to find a missing item or invoice.

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When you’re not at work, where can we find you?
Generally at my house, or out and about with friends. There are tons of places to play pinball around the city, including my home. I own 8 machines that are all around my house!

Image via Cryss Stephens

So you play competitive pinball, how did you get into that?
I originally got involved in it while I was going to college downtown. While I was making my way around town, I found an arcade that had pinball machines. I would go there on my breaks and play pinball between classes. I found out about the Pittsburgh Pinball League through Petey Hendricks, as we both made our way to the arcade to check out the newest pinball machine at the time, Stern’s Indiana Jones. From there, he gave me his card and told me about the website ( and I’ve been a part of it ever since.

Image via Cryss Stephens
When was the first time you travelled for a tournament?
The first time I really traveled for a tournament was about 5 years ago. There was a tournament in Fairfax, VA and we were going to carpool down there. I was very hesitant because I was still new to the game and tournaments, but I knew that I would have a good time and a good experience no matter what. I had a blast!

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Are there any philanthropic tournaments in the pinball world? Have you raised any money for any charities with your skills?
Yes, there are actually a good bit of them, and I’ve had the pleasure of playing and winning in a number of them. We have the Pinball Outreach Project that donates pinball machines to local children’s hospitals so the children can play pinball. The tournaments typically have a small one time fee to play, and then the winners earn prizes instead of cash. There also is Project Pinball that runs along the same premises.

The pinball community is absolutely fantastic with charities and donations. One of the great pinball designers, Barry Oursler, was recently diagnosed with cancer, so we came up with a bunch of tournaments that were donations only, and it all went to his family. I’m not quite sure of the amount that has been raised, but I know of a bunch that raised a couple thousand. Playing in a charity event is different than playing in other tournaments. The feel is different, you start having fun, and you don’t get upset when you lose. Its all for a good cause!

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Pittsburgh seems to be a hotspot for the pinball circuit. What makes it so appealing to that crowd?
I’m really not sure why it’s such a hotspot. I know that the World Pinball Championships have two annual tournaments close-by (The Professional and Amateur Pinball Association has their HQ in Carnegie). And we have a great local pinball scene with great operators who really take care of their machines. No one wants to play a broken/dirty game, so they are able to keep them up and running and beautifully.

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What’s your ultimate career goal? Is pinball something that could become a full-time job for you?
Ultimately, I want to have a job doing something I love. Thankfully, I love doing a lot of things, so I’m well on my way. Pinball has the chance to be a full-time job for me, but it really all depends on how much it grows in the next couple of years. I know that it is really starting to get the attention it deserves. Tournaments are giving out more money, more people are coming out to shows and such, and sponsors are starting to talk with directors about being a part of the pinball scene. I can only hope!

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Any tips for those aspiring to be pinballers? Is pinballers the right term?
I’d say the best thing to do is get involved locally! Chances are there is a pinball league near almost everywhere. It’s a great chance to meet new people, play new machines, go play at private home locations, and all around, have fun. There are plenty of videos and information on the internet that can help anyone learn basic flipper skills and basic rulesets. Then from there, it’s all about experience and watching the best do what they do. And pinballers works for now, haha. Either that, or “pin-head.”

About Katie O.

Katie attempts to balance the humble earnestness of her Rust Belt upbringing with the expensive aspirations (and love of bagels) she gleaned as a college student in NYC. When she's not pondering puns in product names, she co-edits a literary magazine, watches copious amounts of Law & Order, and dreams of becoming Beyoncé.

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  1. Sydney 10/01/2014 at 10:43 am #

    Soooo awesome! I liked reading this one. Love how he has found ways to use his passion while working with charities to make a difference in other peoples’ lives.

  2. Scott 10/04/2014 at 8:17 pm #

    Another thing about him.. he’s wonderful to have as my son and I’m very proud of him!

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