(Topic ID: 216266)

Resurrecting a failing pinmuseum business ?


By pookycade

3 months ago



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    #1 3 months ago

    Looking for some advice from operators out there who run an actual standalone pin museum. Soooo I was provided some space at reasonable rent to store my pinball machines and let our league play. We knew our building was eventually going to be raised to build a new office building, so it was time limited. We decided what the hell lets open this to the public and see what happens. 33 pins from my personal collection, 1300 sq ft, 10 video games just for kicks, open Fri nite, Sat nite, Sun afternoon to keep it sane. If you are wondering where www.paulspinballpalace.net https://www.facebook.com/CVILLEPINBALL/ $10 all you can play. No alcohol

    Been open two months. Life was great to begin with. Print and TV news sought us out, pulling in about 40 people a nite and another 40 on Sunday. Of course we knew as with any business novelty and free press will get you somewhere. So never trust the opening numbers. It started to wane some (quite a bit actually), so that we were averaging 15-20 per nite. Did a little print/radio advertising so it was more in the 18-25 range, though not sure I attribute it entirely to that.

    Well we dived off a cliff recently and had less than 10 customers a nite this week.

    Now we get until August to experiment around some. And as with most operators in this business, my day job as a physician more than covers any losses here. I am not doing this to make a living. But I can't go on running a loss leader here forever. And I can't have this as some massive time suck when I have other responsibilities in life and it doesn't pay any of the bills. Our goal is to just cover rent and maybe a $10 per hour attendant so that I (and our volunteer league members) don't have to be there all the time.

    Pros:
    1) College town (well maybe a pro, our demographic seems to be more 30-50 and kids than 20 something).
    2) We have a pretty decent sized league with 20 players routinely each paying $5 per session to help support this.
    3) Charlottesville is eclectic enough it should be able to support something like this. Ashville, Danville, Richmond, and Roanoke are all within 2-5 hours and they seem to make it work.
    4) Capital is sunk and covered, really only need to cover rent, insurance, utilities and a part time employee at most. Nobody is making a living off this.
    5) Can depreciate machines which helps cover some of the losses.
    6) With the whole Thomas Jefferson thing and University of Virginia it is certainly a tourist destination and already put us on Trip Advisor.

    Cons:
    1) Although we are less than 100 yards from downtown where there is huge foot traffic, we are the equivalent of in a back alley around a corner where there is absolutely ZERO foot traffic. You wouldn't find us unless you were really looking for us. We literally don't exist. Selected location not by choice but by opportunity that grew into something we threw the doors open to public. Never intended to have a pinmuseum.
    2) We serve no food, we serve no alcohol. This is not a barcade, though maybe it should be
    3) Rent in Cville is ridiculous and vacancy rates downtown are about zero. On the mall itself averages $18-20 sq ft/yr. Pinball machines take alot of space.
    4) I already have 4 different jobs I do and unless it can be partially self sufficient the personal time suck it going to do it in.
    5) We have not really done a ton of promotion here to try to lift this off the ground
    6) Cville is only about 40,000 people. Maybe not enough pinball lovers to make this work.

    Questions:
    1) For those that have been thru this and are still in business, what did your trajectory look like ? How long until your losses went to zero. I don't care losing some money, I just can't do it forever.
    2) Alcohol - whats the verdict here, necessary evil ... might as well be running a restaurant OR not really needed it can work without it ?
    3) Location - how much of your business is those who seek you out wherever you are/repeat customers versus new incidental foot traffic that wandered by ?
    4) Promotions - what are you doing to promote your business ?
    5) Pricing - where is your sweet spot, $10 all you can play seems actually on the low side from what I've seen ?
    6) Hours - how often are you open, when do you find your best traffic is ?
    7) Demographics - who plays at your place ?
    8) Private events - what do you charge and how much of your business is this ?
    9) Machine mix - what is your mix of video games and pinball and how do you think that affects your customer base (yes I know I am asking on a pinball forum which will complicate any answers)

    Thanks in advance for the help. If this is something you don't want to share by forum, happy to have you PM me individuall and talk by phone.

    The reason I need to answer these questions myself is that I have to decide in 3 months whether to move it (where and what square footage am I willing to gamble on), or just close the damn thing and put these pins back in storage or maybe finally sell some off. Would love to keep this going if I can find a way to make it work.

    #2 3 months ago

    Look forward to hearing the advice on this. I would love to do the same, however my intuition says unless I sell alcohol, it will not survive. Not really interested in a bar myself, so I am guessing there is no way to make it work.

    Impressive to have 30 machines in your private collection. The 10 Pins I have plus the 4 video games take up a descent amount of space, can’t imagine 30.

    Good luck!

    #3 3 months ago

    Have you checked into zoning issues ? Licenses ? Insurance ?

    From your description, you may have already seen the good money out of the area. Or changes in the weather may effect your business. Nice weather, too much free stuff to do outside.

    Alcohol isn't always the answer. They just don't hand out licenses anywhere. And cost is huge, along with setting up a good bar and increased insurance costs. Any of your group want to wrestle drunks ? Alcohol can be good and bad, it isn't a guarantee of success. Bars go broke too.

    I wish you every success. Learn as much as you can. Experiment with what you have too.

    LTG : )

    #4 3 months ago
    Quoted from alexanr1:

    however my intuition says unless I sell alcohol

    Really study that one. Bars go broke too. And setting up a bar can be co$tly.

    LTG : )

    #5 3 months ago
    Quoted from LTG:

    Have you checked into zoning issues ? Licenses ? Insurance ?
    From your description, you may have already seen the good money out of the area. Or changes in the weather may effect your business. Nice weather, too much free stuff to do outside.
    Alcohol isn't always the answer. They just don't hand out licenses anywhere. And cost is huge, along with setting up a good bar and increased insurance costs. Any of your group want to wrestle drunks ? Alcohol can be good and bad, it isn't a guarantee of success. Bars go broke too.
    I wish you every success. Learn as much as you can. Experiment with what you have too.
    LTG : )

    Yeah I did my homework. We are correctly zoned. Have ample liability and property insurance. Have an accountant. And yes looked even into the alcohol license though given the time limited aspect to what we were doing it wasn't worth it. I run another tech startup so this isn't my first rodeo. But it is clearly a different kind of rodeo that is interesting in its own right.

    #6 3 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    I have to decide in 3 months whether to move it (where and what square footage am I willing to gamble on), or just close the damn thing and put these pins back in storage or maybe finally sell some off. Would love to keep this going if I can find a way to make it work.

    Congrats on having your location and pins listed on pinside's map, but why aren't you represented on pinballmap.com? Lots of people traveling don't even know about pinside and check pinballmap.com when passing through to find a location to play. Free advertising. You definitely should be on there.

    Also, your website doesn't have pics of the location inside and the pin wall(s)?

    #7 3 months ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    Congrats on having your location and pins listed on pinside's map, but why aren't you represented on pinballmap.com? Lots of people traveling don't even know about pinside and check pinballmap.com when passing through to find a location to play. Free advertising. You definitely should be on there.
    Also, your website doesn't have pics of the location inside and the pin wall(s)?

    Will have to do that, and yeah the website is clearly a pathetic effort. Just threw it up there. Will not win any awards in the marketing department.

    #8 3 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    Will have to do that, and yeah the website is clearly a pathetic effort. Just threw it up there. Will not win any awards in the marketing department.

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

    Getting on pinballmap.com will take you MAYBE 15 minutes once the town is added to the map (you have to request a new town and location from the admin, then you can add/remove pins at will).

    Throwing up a handful of pictures in rotation on your location website has to be an option available in even the crappy godaddy website builder. And probably another 15 minutes. If you're asking how to fix this and haven't even done these two very basic things...well...

    Also, I don't know what signage rules are in charlottesville, but from looking at google maps, at street level, you don't exist, even if people are standing on the sidewalk outside since you're so far back. Signage would help. (You may have addressed this already since google maps street level pics aren't that current).

    #9 3 months ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
    Getting on pinballmap.com will take you MAYBE 15 minutes once the town is added to the map (you have to request a new town and location from the admin, then you can add/remove pins at will).
    Throwing up a handful of pictures in rotation on your location website has to be an option available in even the crappy godaddy website builder. And probably another 15 minutes. If you're asking how to fix this and haven't even done these two very basic things...well...
    Also, I don't know what signage rules are in charlottesville, but from looking at google maps, at street level, you don't exist, even if people are standing on the sidewalk outside since you're so far back. Signage would help. (You may have addressed this already since google maps street level pics aren't that current).

    Points well taken. Yes they need to be addressed. We can’t put signage up at street level but we do have a lit up sign outside the front window about 2x4’ and an open sign and we leave the front door open. But no getting around it being an all in all crappy location at the back of a parking lot with no actual customer parking.

    #10 3 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    Points well taken. Yes they need to be addressed. We can’t put signage up at street level but we do have a lit up sign outside the front window about 2x4’ and an open sign and we leave the front door open. But no getting around it being an all in all crappy location at the back of a parking lot with no actual customer parking.

    Oh, I didn't know about the parking. Your customers can't park in those parking lots around the building? Oof.

    UVA doesn't have the most awesome Physics department (tied for 44th nationwide) and I don't know what school promotion policies are, but seems like the physics students would be an easy first target for pinball promotions on campus. Maybe get ahold of the physics department and see if you can supply flyers with some kind of promotion tied to them.

    #11 3 months ago
    Quoted from vireland:

    Oh, I didn't know about the parking. Your customers can't park in those parking lots around the building? Oof.

    Oof indeed. There is a public parking garage around the corner from us but that’s not a real substitute for actual parking. Bad location clearly goes to top of list of reasons to fail but location also driven by rent we can afford

    #12 3 months ago

    Starfighters arcade in Phoenix does something similar.
    http://starfightersarcade.com/

    They aren't open very much, and they charge 10 bucks for the night, or 35$ for a monthly pass. It's usually pretty packed. They don't sell alcohol, but they sell candy and other stuff. maybe contact them to see what they did.

    #13 3 months ago

    pookycade
    From a customers point of view my wife and I think your location based on pics from google maps is horrible,no parking is strike two and no quick food area or drinks(not alcohol) is strike three. We think you are on the downward spiral. Sorry just our opinion.
    We traveled around to pinball places when we first got into this hobby and think you should take a look at how the places are set up for happy customers.
    Silverball Museum in New Jersey.
    Fun Spot in New Hampshire.
    And the now closed Pinball Wizard in New Hampshire.
    Get out of where you are and get a good location with some food.
    -Mike

    #14 3 months ago

    My local pinball spot Uptown Pinball originally focused on pinball, but soon realized the money was in bringing in kids. His spot is setup with pinball on one side and all the skeeball, driving games, shooters, pool table, air hockey, basketball, etc. on the other side. In order to bring in more business, I would add some things like skeeball, foosball, pool tables. He charges a flat $12 a day charge, everything on free play. You can make money, but have to have items to bring people in and keep them coming back. He also gives free chips and can drink to every customer

    https://www.facebook.com/UptownPinball/videos/1448628945263486/

    #15 3 months ago

    I have seen where places have different food trucks come on different days and they park outside the building. If you dont want to serve food maybe this could help. Then you put out a calendar on what food will be there on what day.

    #16 3 months ago
    Quoted from Coz:

    My local pinball spot Uptown Pinball originally focused on pinball, but soon realized the money was in bringing in kids. His spot is setup with pinball on one side and all the skeeball, driving games, shooters, pool table, air hockey, basketball, etc. on the other side. In order to bring in more business, I would add some things like skeeball, foosball, pool tables. He charges a flat $12 a day charge, everything on free play. You can make money, but have to have items to bring people in and keep them coming back. He also gives free chips and can drink to every customer
    https://www.facebook.com/UptownPinball/videos/1448628945263486/

    Have the ability to add some 30 video games, just no space unless we pull some pins. But I suspect you are spot on here. When we see 30 Pinball’s we all go “wow 30 pinball machines !” I suspect kids say “this is boorrring”.

    #17 3 months ago
    Quoted from jester523:

    Starfighters arcade in Phoenix does something similar.
    http://starfightersarcade.com/
    They aren't open very much, and they charge 10 bucks for the night, or 35$ for a monthly pass. It's usually pretty packed. They don't sell alcohol, but they sell candy and other stuff. maybe contact them to see what they did.

    This is probably the closest to what we are but full mix of video games which I could add with more space or pulling some pins. Oh yeah and some several million more in population. But thanks for the link as their hours are almost identical. Their price almost identical. So I have at least two variables I know works for some place

    #18 3 months ago
    Quoted from Grizlyrig:

    pookycade
    From a customers point of view my wife and I think your location based on pics from google maps is horrible,no parking is strike two and no quick food area or drinks(not alcohol) is strike three. We think you are on the downward spiral. Sorry just our opinion.
    We traveled around to pinball places when we first got into this hobby and think you should take a look at how the places are set up for happy customers.
    Silverball Museum in New Jersey.
    Fun Spot in New Hampshire.
    And the now closed Pinball Wizard in New Hampshire.
    Get out of where you are and get a good location with some food.
    -Mike

    It is very nice inside. Full glass wall to the outside has amazing light and spacious. But yes physical location couldn’t be more horrible if one tried. It is not a “repeat customer” type locale except for a very select and dedicated few. I’m willing to try diffeeent things to mix it up and certainly a different place to give it another true go past this incidental trial run. Probably a millions ways NOT to run a business and we’ve found one

    #19 3 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    Have the ability to add some 30 video games, just no space unless we pull some pins. But I suspect you are spot on here. When we see 30 Pinball’s we all go “wow 30 pinball machines !” I suspect kids say “this is boorrring”.

    30 pins is amazing!! Just make sure you have some other added entertainment to bring in the casual fans and hopefully they will learn about pinball. I think in order for you to increase customers, and to succeed, you need to offer up other options. Good luck!!

    #20 3 months ago

    Location, location, location....1st rule of real estate. Hardcore pinballers will find you. Need to get the walk-by traffic, curious onlookers. Need to sell a signature sandwich or burger. Alcohol not necessary, but you could offer BYOB and charge a “cork fee”. Toss a Killer Queen video game into the mix and your get the hipsters crowd rolling in, 10-15 at a time.

    #21 3 months ago

    What if you found an existing (trendy) bar that had vacant space right next it? You could then have all your machines watched by an existing business in exchange you pay for rent and keep all the coin to try to break even. Patron draw for that bar so could only boost food/booze sales for them. If you approached existing owners or advertised, they may be interested.

    #22 3 months ago

    Just a few things to consider:

    Video games (including NES or SNES)
    BYOB
    Get on Yelp
    Advertise
    Killer Queen!
    Have a pinside party there!

    #23 3 months ago
    Quoted from spinal:

    What if you found an existing (trendy) bar that had vacant space right next it? You could then have all your machines watched by an existing business in exchange you pay for rent and keep all the coin to try to break even. Patron draw for that bar so could only boost food/booze sales for them. If you approached existing owners or advertised, they may be interested.

    There is already a well established operator in town who has several location with 1-5 machines inside bars. Less opportunity there. But yes planting the location next to a bar could help for sure in foot traffic

    #24 3 months ago
    Quoted from Pinless:

    Just a few things to consider:
    Video games (including NES or SNES)
    BYOB
    Get on Yelp
    Advertise
    Have a pinside party there!

    Have an Xbox with mix of SNES, Mame, NES games on it. It is routinely used by kids.

    Have to look into the byob rules for our town. Advertising runs some $180 per weekend which is tough when you earn $180 per weekend in the worst case scenario. Robin did actually come by in the dead of winter as he was in the DC area. Felt honored and privileged that he drove two hours down here. And we have invited the Richmond collective guys to come by and play in a tournament. However just because we have done these things doesn’t mean we have done them right

    #25 3 months ago

    Try Group on.
    A friend did it for a failing slot car track and doubled business.
    Pinball tournaments also would help.

    #26 3 months ago
    Quoted from Blitzburgh99:

    Location, location, location....1st rule of real estate. Hardcore pinballers will find you. Need to get the walk-by traffic, curious onlookers. Need to sell a signature sandwich or burger. Alcohol not necessary, but you could offer BYOB and charge a “cork fee”. Toss a Killer Queen video game into the mix and your get the hipsters crowd rolling in, 10-15 at a time.

    Yeah that’s the $100k question. Are these kinda old school arcades a destination location (they know of you and find you) or are they are chance upon (saw you while walking by and stop in) business. High traffic locations are extremely expensive here in tourist town central and one needs to know that the extra cost is really worth it. Also have to scale down size in order to afford rent in those locales

    #27 3 months ago

    Add your listing to yelp. I travel for work routinely and seek out businesses just like yours. If you’re not on Yelp I would never find you.

    Do you plan on modifying your hours during summer?

    #28 3 months ago
    Quoted from Pinless:

    Add your listing to yelp. I travel for work routinely and seek out businesses just like yours. If you’re not on Yelp I would never find you.
    Do you plan on modifying your hours during summer?

    I don’t really know. In theory kids out of school, though most (mine included) probably at camp. Would need hourly person to staff if during day. Will add us on Yelp. Thanks for suggestion.

    #29 3 months ago

    Ok this is the last of my inexperienced.02

    I found this place in Tampa, FL and it was packed. It’s very similar to yours. Pins, video games, and no food or drinks

    They had a kids birthday party going on when I was there. It seemed like a great idea to offer birthday packages.

    The only difference is that they are on the main street in a touristy part of town. Lots of foot traffic in front of the storefront. Just wanted to share so you could see what others are doing. Google their name and you can notice all of the different ways you can find them.

    http://www.replaymuseum.org/

    #30 3 months ago
    Quoted from gamera9:

    Try Group on.
    A friend did it for a failing slot car track and doubled business.
    Pinball tournaments also would help.

    I did look into that. At this point will try anything, but the issue with Groupon is that you get about 1/4 the cost of normal entry. Most of this new business does not become repeat business at full price when they just paid you half price to get in. So yes it seems to boost attendance but only briefly. It’s why I held off until now

    #31 3 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    Yeah that’s the $100k question. Are these kinda old school arcades a destination location (they know of you and find you) or are they are chance upon (saw you while walking by and stop in) business. High traffic locations are extremely expensive here in tourist town central and one needs to know that the extra cost is really worth it. Also have to scale down size in order to afford rent in those locales

    If you put newest pinball releases on the floor as soon as they come out, the hardcore pinballers will be there to try them out. Serve a great burger, and they would grab a bite to eat and probably bring he family.

    #32 3 months ago
    Quoted from Pinless:

    The only difference is that they are on the main street in a touristy part of town. Lots of foot traffic in front of the storefront.

    That's a really, really big difference.

    Richard

    #33 3 months ago
    Quoted from someotherguy:

    That's a really, really big difference.
    Richard

    Yes, it’s huge. I just wanted to emphasize that they don’t have food, alcohol, byob, killer queen, etc..

    It’s going to be tough to turn a profit only being open for business 15 hours per week

    #34 3 months ago
    Quoted from Pinless:

    Yes, it’s huge. I just wanted to emphasize that they don’t have food, alcohol, byob, killer queen, etc..

    Like to see that they make it work with pins and vids. Have about that size collection of both myself so already potential to do the same is in place but only have about 8 vids on the floor now. Although if you ask my son he is like “like the driving game (Cruisin USA) but not the frog one (Frogger)”. I have had several rent out the space requests and need to make it more prominent as “happenings” seem to be a reasonable opportunity here

    #35 3 months ago

    Honestly it's probably never going to be profitable. If you want to minimize your headaches and time there then alcohol and food are terrible ideas. If you just like having a place to play in your town and for the public to play, do it as cheap as possible, use the business to expense the games, keep them clean and playing well and find some kids you can trust to run the front door. It won't make much or any ever but if you enjoy having it then that may be enough to make it worth it.

    #36 3 months ago
    Quoted from jgentry:

    Honestly it's probably never going to be profitable. If you want to minimize your headaches and time there then alcohol and food are terrible ideas. If you just like having a place to play in your town and for the public to play, do it as cheap as possible, use the business to expense the games, keep them clean and playing well and find some kids you can trust to run the front door. It won't make much or any ever but if you enjoy having it then that may be enough to make it worth it.

    I’m inclined to agree with you here. More add ons, more problems. And really I don’t care if it makes any money. We all have loss leaders in our lives. I just need it to be a stable and affordable loss. However one caveat is I believe one can only take the capital depreciation on a money losing business for something like the first 2-3 years. Not entirely clear on this but my accountant mentioned something like that.

    #37 3 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    I’m inclined to agree with you here. More add ons, more problems. And really I don’t care if it makes any money. We all have loss leaders in our lives. I just need it to be a stable and affordable loss. However one caveat is I believe one can only take the capital depreciation on a money losing business for something like the first 2-3 years. Not entirely clear on this but my accountant mentioned something like that.

    Correct, in most cases you can not keep expensing without showing a profit in 3 years. You also would have issues with the business owning the games if you close it down. If you sell games that are depreciated through the business you also take a tax hit. You might look into owning the games personally and leasing them to the business. Lots of different ways to set it up and all have draw backs.

    #38 3 months ago

    Kid parties. A room for pizza and soda, with folding tables, and chairs. Each kid gets a slice and a soda.
    Parking.
    More of a mix: pinballs, video games, and old arcade pieces (shooting galleries etc.).
    Rent games for events, such as parties at a residence.
    Pinball league, meeting there weekly for friendly competition (byob?).

    Guys doing this seem to have to struggle a bit to make it work.

    #39 3 months ago

    If you were here and did family on Saturdays, afternoons, early evenings and adults at night you could be packed.
    There are a few "barcade" type places around and I have to say alcohol is a huge draw. You can hardly get in the door on weekends. Since your a college town have moderately priced alcohol with some beer specials. The successful places have a nice mix of pins AND other games.
    Have you been to places like Boxcar in Raleigh or others and did some scouting research? The reason I say Boxcar is they sound a lot like you. Parking kind of sucks, off the side street but are killing it on weekends.

    #40 3 months ago

    As a customer, the most important question I would have wasn’t addressed here yet. What games? We have a couple of really nice gaming locations here in Reno, but I also have a pretty nice one downstairs. Even though I enjoy going out to play games, there has to be something I really want to play, or an event, for me to not just walk downstairs to play.

    Scheduling can also be an issue. Saturday afternoon would be the most likely time for me to go play, but the local barcade tends to have Family day then. Closing the bar and adding in a bunch of kids is a guarantee that I won’t be going there that day.

    #41 3 months ago

    Surprised game maintenance/upkeep hasn't come up here. As your game get more and more play, that will become more and more of an issue... It will take a non-trivial investment (time or money to hire someone) to maintain 30 games.

    #42 3 months ago
    Quoted from Nexyss:

    As a customer, the most important question I would have wasn’t addressed here yet. What games? We have a couple of really nice gaming locations here in Reno, but I also have a pretty nice one downstairs. Even though I enjoy going out to play games, there has to be something I really want to play, or an event, for me to not just walk downstairs to play.
    Scheduling can also be an issue. Saturday afternoon would be the most likely time for me to go play, but the local barcade tends to have Family day then. Closing the bar and adding in a bunch of kids is a guarantee that I won’t be going there that day.

    I think a reasonably diverse collection for any pinball affecianado. But realized it needs to be on pinmap and also prominent on our website which it isn’t.

    https://pinside.com/pinball/map/where-to-play/11030-paul-s-pinball-palace-charlottesville-va

    I do get your point but I would like to offer the counter side of this. During our early days we had at least 10 people local to the area walk in, go on effusively about how great it was we opened this place in the town and how the last place closed back in the 80s, and then ask if anyone could come fix their broken pin or we knew of any good repair technicians. Upon giving them a referral they promptly walked out never to be seen again. While I appreciate that it’s my job to provide something they feel is worth paying for, I gotta say I found it just annoying. If the key demographic of people who actually own machines isn’t even going to support the place then they should just not bother venturing down to see us instead of coming in, heaping on hollow praise, and then leaving immediately when they figure out we don’t offer a house calls repair service.

    #43 3 months ago
    Quoted from andre060:

    Surprised game maintenance/upkeep hasn't come up here. As your game get more and more play, that will become more and more of an issue... It will take a non-trivial investment (time or money to hire someone) to maintain 30 games.

    We have our pinball league helping out here. And yes it is a non trivial issue. So far it’s been entirely manageable and the games are in more playable shape than I’ve seen at other pin museums I’ve been to with less out of order signs

    #44 3 months ago

    Check out STARPORT pub and arcade on Facebook and pinmap. It functions as a bar and arcade with a hefty pinball and arcade lineup. STARPORT host pinball tournaments and a weekly league. Kids / family times and birthday parties.

    #45 3 months ago

    We have a local place like that which morphed from a location with 30 games to nearly 100. Initally the games were set up for coin play...(.25 to $1). A new game would be rotated in once a week. My friends and I go each time a few games change. We usually buy a soda from their vending machine. Every game change, tournament or special is mentioned on Facebook with tons of photos. You might get some free advertising on craigslist...there are tons of people scouring craigslist for anything pinball. People asking about repairs might be looking to sell...cheap.

    #46 3 months ago

    1. Once school is out, college town biz can sink for the summer.

    2. On nights with large street traffic, put up some sandwich signs with an arrow that says PINBALL!! leading people down to your biz.
    (of course, you don't have a permit, but on a Saturday night, all the ordnance officers are off duty. Don't put your address on them, so you can deny any knowledge of them "No, I've not seen those signs. There was an out of town league here that night, maybe that's something they do....." Hell, you could put in small letters "NYC Pinball League" on them to further your disinformation. )

    3. Make a trail of glitter sugar from the main part of town to your biz. Kids that are high will follow anything that sparkles.

    4. Hook up with a local amusement distributor and be the first to unbox the latest game. Issue press releases for all local media like it's amazing news.

    5. Trade radio advertising dollar-for-dollar with gift certificates for your biz. The radio station will have people call in to win and you will get valuable air time. Radio stations LOVE doing call in contests.

    6. Rent the whole place out for private parties. Make sure you have the number for the local out-call services, limo services, and that kind of thing.

    7. Put ads in old-people events like: classic car shows, art fairs, ham shows,

    #47 3 months ago

    You just need a viral video/tweet with Tony Bennett encouraging the student body to support the pinball museum!

    #48 3 months ago
    Quoted from Blitzburgh99:

    Toss a Killer Queen video game into the mix and your get the hipsters crowd rolling in, 10-15 at a time.

    Quoted from Pinless:

    Killer Queen!

    Killer queen costs $14,000. I've had two & it outearns pinball 25-to-1 once people get hooked. It just takes work to get the word out via a Facebook community "scene" page and organizing league/monthly tournaments. If you don't do the aforementioned, it could possibly just sit there collecting dust.

    Probably not a great investment for a failing location.

    #49 3 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    I do get your point but I would like to offer the counter side of this. During our early days we had at least 10 people local to the area walk in, go on effusively about how great it was we opened this place in the town and how the last place closed back in the 80s, and then ask if anyone could come fix their broken pin or we knew of any good repair technicians. Upon giving them a referral they promptly walked out never to be seen again. While I appreciate that it’s my job to provide something they feel is worth paying for, I gotta say I found it just annoying. If the key demographic of people who actually own machines isn’t even going to support the place then they should just not bother venturing down to see us instead of coming in, heaping on hollow praise, and then leaving immediately when they figure out we don’t offer a house calls repair service.

    Too funny.

    I get that all the time. And worse, several of the other places send these people to me for information.

    And as you've already discovered. People that own their own games, aren't going to pay your rent. And you shouldn't waste any time going after them to build your customer base.

    LTG : )

    #50 3 months ago
    Quoted from vid1900:

    1. Once school is out, college town biz can sink for the summer.
    2. On nights with large street traffic, put up some sandwich signs with an arrow that says PINBALL!! leading people down to your biz.
    (of course, you don't have a permit, but on a Saturday night, all the ordnance officers are off duty. Don't put your address on them, so you can deny any knowledge of them "No, I've not seen those signs. There was an out of town league here that night, maybe that's something they do....." Hell, you could put in small letters "NYC Pinball League" on them to further your disinformation. )
    3. Make a trail of glitter sugar from the main part of town to your biz. Kids that are high will follow anything that sparkles.
    4. Hook up with a local amusement distributor and be the first to unbox the latest game. Issue press releases for all local media like it's amazing news.
    5. Trade radio advertising dollar-for-dollar with gift certificates for your biz. The radio station will have people call in to win and you will get valuable air time. Radio stations LOVE doing call in contests.
    6. Rent the whole place out for private parties. Make sure you have the number for the local out-call services, limo services, and that kind of thing.
    7. Put ads in old-people events like: classic car shows, art fairs, ham shows,

    All great advice. Thanks

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