Pooks, XSV, Jay, a lot of you folks are 100% on target and understand the reality of pinball-as-a-business-venture.
Without knowledge, without a sincere level of passion, and without a solid business strategy... every pinball-based venture will fall apart. EVERY ONE. 100% guaranteed. Always.
Even when all of the fundamentals are in place, pinball only lives on because we want it to... through sheer force of will!
PHOF caters to the masses and takes all the hits of having a huge public location in the middle of a tourist city. Tim works himself to the point of physical and mental collapse. It's amazing he had the energy to launch PHOF 2.0 considering the stress and backlog. His games aren't collector quality and never will be, nor will they need to be. It's all about the quantity, and believe me, Tim knows the game better than anyone else playing with those big boy casinos and managing tens of millions of quarters flowing through those coin slots. He's also been quite generous with sharing his strategies and information, but few want to follow in the footsteps required to do it. It's a life-changing level of commitment. Perhaps only a task for an insane man.
Quantity also wins for Asheville with its hugely favorable location, attractive business storefront, and media coverage constantly funneling streams of new visitors in the door. Enough to keep the cash registers full no matter what happens. They're the big winners of the pinball hobby. Others include Up-N-Down Lounge, Quarterworld, Ground Kontrol, etc... all of them able to sell alcoholic beverages too (except PHOF).
Pooks (Decades Arcade) and I and a handful of others across the continent represent the mid-tier. We lack some of the advantages of the big guys and have to make it up somehow. Oftentimes by catering to other passionate weirdos like ourselves who want "boutique pinball" at the best possible quality without wrecking our day jobs in the process. We operate on slim margins and put in a lot of overtime to keep things running. Some months are a wash, at best. But we persist! FOR YOUUU!
In my case, I have neither a good storefront (looks like a bank from the outside), nor the ability to offer alcoholic beverages on demand. I'm also limited in terms of indoor space... can get maybe 65 maximum in here. So if I can't expand "out", I'll move "up"... putting the focus upon an extremely high quality experience in terms of lighting, gameplay, variety, refreshments, merchandise, special events, perks for sustaining members, etc. Even then, as good as RPM has gotten over the past three years, I'm constantly having to innovate to keep pace and stay competitive. It never stops. I just worked 38 days straight.
Pooks has a solid strategy by anchoring himself to a brewery. I strongly believe pinball + brewery represents its ultimate evolved form... combining a low-profit, high-maintenance attraction with a high-profit, out of the way product with lots of floor space to burn. It's so perfect it hurts. Every brewery should have some pins in it. Enough perhaps to set the public's expectations no matter which one they visit.
Anyway, don't get me started... I got auctions to watch and money to hopefully -not- spend. Hopefully. *gulp*