Never updated here, but I've been out of WHITE generic digits on these sets for a while. Still have some AMBER generic digits, but that'll be next to run out. BLUE generic digits, I should have stock of for a while.
I'm sure I've mentioned this in some regard, but material cost was always quite high on these kits. Just the nature of the beast. Darn near 50% of the Introductory Pricing I had setup on the AMBER sets.. so when these were priced at $80 for AMBER Kits for introductory pricing, after material costs, PP fees and taxes I'm lucky if it amounted to $20 per kit actual profits. And that's for packaging up all the individual kit contents, spending time shipping it out and COMPLETELY ignores hundreds of hours that were put into the design, instructions, etc and the customer support side of things.
I'll just throw a caution out for anyone thinking there's big money in display products from a manufacturing standpoint. It also explains the reason I'm not dead-set on getting into other display products for Williams games, etc. The Kit or Assembled pricing of display sets out there you see for most/all aftermarket LED display sets is VERY reasonable. Material costs are high & considering some of these guys have their products with distributors who expect 25-35% off retail pricing & the customer can buy a display set for $150-250. It's incredible actually. These aren't high volume products. Tons of competition keeps pricing down. The ROI for the customer is *incredible* because he/she gets to enjoy the displays for years. What's that work out to for the cost per-month or per-week? And often you free up an original display that you can sell or use in another game. Displays to me are like NVRAM, a no-brainer upgrade that you really can't lose much on. Sell the machine and it can be priced higher because it has LED displays in it... or you swap them out and the LED displays still have value.
Wolffpac sells Sys3-6 Williams display kits at $100 shipped that I wouldn't touch myself. Do people recognize the deal that is? Probably not. I've got no problem voicing a bit of opinion here on how much of a deal it actually is..
For those $100 early Williams display sets:
Priority shipping alone is $8-12
Paypal fees on $100 is another $3.30
Material costs $30.00-$40.00 most likely
Total cost ~$50 or more when you average in variable Priority shipping rates to different parts of the US.
So let's go with $50 gross profit per SET. That then gets taxed by fed, state, local authorities because you *ARE* a business selling anything with the intent to make profit. There's then SS/medicare of 15.3%. Even in a lower tax bracket, that's going to whittle that gross profit down to about $30.00 take-home per display kit. The kit costs time to package, ship, handle customer support, etc and you have to deal with tax paperwork other aspects of running a business.
Say you ship 100 full sets of kits a year, which is quite a few really. So you make $3k take-home. Big whoop as a manufacturer when you consider the risk in ordering in materials, the time in packaging and shipping, the added liability of having more and more products out there, customer questions when kit builds don't go right the first time. That same $3k could have been made buying/reselling a few pinball machines with considerably less work.
It's A-M-A-Z-I-N-G that there are people in this hobby willing to do this stuff at what amounts to bargain pricing.
I'm not talking about decals, anodized lock nuts, rubber rings, or stuff that otherwise comes as what it is and gets thrown in a box/envelope. That's the profitable stuff and smarter things to be selling. Niche PCB products that are often hand-assembled, not so much.
If people only knew some of the costs involved and what it actually amounted to sometimes... heh. For the guys hand-assembling PCB products and offering at competitive pricing, there's a lot more of just being thrilled offering something that helps people out and feeling you've made a mark on the world, than very large profits happening. Just some things to keep in mind when shopping for PCB products. Ask yourself, "what do I gain?" Personally, I think the upside is pretty large for the customer but that's understanding all of the costs involved and what things boil down to.
This isn't a pitch for these RETROFIT Kits. I've got no reason to pitch them any more or fight for sales because there's such thin margins on them and always have been. Once the last 20x or so kits ship out that'll be it. I was happy to make something different and prove it could be done.
My real purpose in putting out some factual info like this is just to educate some people on a real-world view of profits on niche pinball PCB products. There's assumptions made on what profits exist, when it's a bit different than most people might think. A lot of these products are *dirt cheap*. The only way to make really good money is a high volume product, with a large profit margin, that magically appears at your door ready-to-ship. That's not pinball PCBs since many of the small guys doing this stuff are hand-assembling kits or boards themselves and the labor has to be added into the price. Believe me, labor figured in is ridiculously low in most cases -- I think some people just ignore it because they're excited to be selling something of their own so they're happy making 2-3x material cost. My hats off to people building these types products or offering diy kits at reasonable prices.
Now go buy some early Williams display kits from Wolffpac for $100, it's a steal!
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