(Topic ID: 216266)

Resurrecting a failing pinmuseum business ?


By pookycade

8 months ago



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  • 189 posts
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  • Latest reply 13 minutes ago by robertmee
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    There are 189 posts in this topic. You are on page 4 of 4.
    #151 8 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    Based on everything written here I am going the social media route. We are posting more and trying to increase our presence. We shall see how that does.
    I am also taking out a few targeted ads in weekly that tourists tend to frequent. Perhaps a wasted effort, but will be curious to see if we can boost the out of town ratio and if so where that gets generated from.

    One of the cool things about "boosting" events and targeted ads on Facebook is they tell you exactly how many people click through to your post and break down the price per click. The also give you a lot of demographic info on those people, so you start to get a feel for who your audience is. For our pinball and arcade show I used targeted keywords like: pinball, arcade, videogame, games, playstation, xbox, jukebox, coin op and sometimes branch out into geek culture more because a lot of the people that like D&D, Magic the Gathering, gaming, etc. also like arcade games and pinball. I've found our demographics are both men and women with most falling between the ages of 25-50, but I usually target 18-65. Anyway, even if you don't see a big payoff instantly, it's cheap, you gain some demographic info, and it spreads the word and brings people to your Facebook page, where they may like it and start seeing your social media posts.

    #152 8 months ago
    Quoted from Brijam:

    Sad to say mine too.

    I strongly disagree, the college market is a perfect market.

    In Cambridge, MA a place called A4cade opened practically on MIT's campus (just a block away). It has been bringing in money hand over fist. 6 pins, 20 arcade games, pop a shot, skeeball, you name it.

    #153 8 months ago

    I'm up in Charlottesville several times a year. I often stay at the Omni on one side of the Mall. There is an ice rink with a few pins right across from there. I have played there, but would really like to come visit your place. Where exactly is it?

    #154 8 months ago
    Quoted from zombywoof:

    I'm up in Charlottesville several times a year. I often stay at the Omni on one side of the Mall. There is an ice rink with a few pins right across from there. I have played there, but would really like to come visit your place. Where exactly is it?

    Just hit the magnifying glass on the left here:

    https://www.pinballmap.com/charlottesville?utf8=%E2%9C%93&region=charlottesville&by_location_id=&by_location_name=

    #155 8 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    Hey we respond to advice. One down, one Yelp to go. And heck maybe even an Instagram account at some point. Thanks again

    Yelp says your business is unclaimed:
    https://www.yelp.com/biz/pauls-pinball-palace-charlottesville-2

    #156 8 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    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

    I think understanding your demo of 'new' vs 'repeat' vs 'passing through' customers would help you a good bit.

    You are offering a unique product, you don't need beauty or 'all in one' benefits. But people do need to know you exist, they do need to cross the tipping point to commit to come, and they do need to want to return.

    Online discovery can overcome the 'street level' discovery... but people need to be looking to begin with.

    Do you know what the promotion abilities are on-campus? Can you pay a kid to hand out flyers at the student union a few days a month? Find similar spots it may be useful to get your idea in front of eyeballs... and hope they search your name online.

    2 weeks later
    #157 7 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    Fully agree with them. Only 3 EMs (compared to 30 SS) in the house at one time and I will try to rotate them over time.

    It's been a few weeks, how is the promotional efforts going? Any improvement in attendance?

    2 weeks later
    #158 7 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    Hey we respond to advice. One down, one Yelp to go. And heck maybe even an Instagram account at some point. Thanks again

    So, did any of that help? Did the business pick up?

    #159 7 months ago

    I was curious too, there were a bunch of great suggestions in this thread, I was hoping some worked out.

    1 month later
    #160 5 months ago
    Quoted from nwpinball:

    I was curious too, there were a bunch of great suggestions in this thread, I was hoping some worked out.

    There was a story about them looking to move a month ago:
    http://www.nbc29.com/story/38542798/pinball-palace

    Supposedly Aug 1 was drop dead for closing shop if they couldn't find a new location, but it looks like they found a new spot and are moving to Carlton Ave in Charlottesville (the "Belmont area") and will reopen in September.

    #161 5 months ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    BUT Asheville has some 1000 people per week come thru there (per their website) and no barcade that I can see

    They definitely sell alcohol. But I’m sure that’s not the only reason why they get good foot traffic. Tourists a plenty. I’ve never heard of Charlottesville VA but I’ve been to Asheville NC 3 times in the past two years.

    11
    #163 5 months ago

    So I thought I’d update this now that the deed is finally done. Hate stories with no ending at all.

    4 weeks ago I was lining up a storage facility for the machines, unable to find a place we could afford without some significant financial pain. Heck even got on the local news with our pleas for space.

    However, as alluded to above we closed last weekend and today mostly finished moving over to a new location with actually a bit more space so I can add some video games on top of the pins. Dear god it is no fun to move 40 machines even if just a mile away.

    As happens to all new businesses we were the hot new thing for a month until we weren’t. But slowly our census kept going back up over the last two months. People found us, they kept coming. In July we had some 350 people stop by. It convinced me to continue this endeavor as we are at or maybe even a little past breakeven.

    All in all I think we’ve made a step up here. Not hidden anymore, have a pizza parlor on one side and Mexican restsruatnt on the other, and finally a coin op laundromat of all things next door. And we have parking, sweet glorious parking spaces. Place is a bit rough, a true honest to god warehouse we partially sublease from our very generous landlord, but we will give it some charm before opening again in a month. And yes we will add some alcohol for the evening crowd given that our landlord runs a microbrewery. But for afternoons it’s dry.

    My take Home advice for now for those considering this is to just keep at it. People will find you, maybe just not as fast as you want. And as long as the goal isn’t to become rich at this, it is financially feasible to do it on your own terms.

    Will update this thread further once we have the new place up.

    Thanks again for everyone’s helpful advice and support

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    2 weeks later
    #164 5 months ago

    Hey pookycade I made it to your old place on your last day. It's awesome! I'm glad you have a new place with parking. It was very hard to find your place. I would've stayed longer, but my family was not interested and they were hungry! Mexican food by your new spot will work next time!

    One last thing to think about - swag. I would have paid $20-25 for a T-shirt with your places name and art or something. Firefly is in a grimy looking building, but Google maps found it ! Family approved of food and I got to play some games. Oh, and I have a firefly t-shirt now!

    Good luck!

    1 month later
    #165 4 months ago

    Officially re-opening at the new location on 10/12/18 with a name change to "Decades Arcade" which is MUCH BETTER. Good luck!

    3 weeks later
    #166 3 months ago

    Well that went pretty OK.

    150 people the first night. Yeah not sustainable, but we can feel good about it for at least a week. New place is bigger, better, and overall improved location. And yes, way better name even if my ego took a hit in the process.

    But my god it took a lot of work to get it up and running. Warehouse that used to house an old produce business and hadn't seen a coat of paint in 20 years. Even have an upstairs we haven't even touched yet, so we can expand further when the time is right and more machines are functional.

    5 parties already booked and we've been open a week. Should be able to stay in business this time I think. Now just to hire some employees so I don't have to be there every weekend.

    www.decadesarcade.com

    https://www.facebook.com/CVILLEPINBALL/

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    #167 3 months ago

    Wow! I love the line-up. If i lived slightly nearer i‘d be a regular.

    #168 3 months ago

    Facebook, Twitter , Instagram all help. Good luck and update locators like pinball map!

    #169 3 months ago

    Wow, is that a woodrail next to a bingo machine on location? Awesome!

    #170 3 months ago

    That looks really nice. Quite a setup and lineup. That's a ton of work just having all those pins ready let alone the facility. Congrats.

    #171 3 months ago

    Nice set up, it looks a little like a place here in Seattle called Add-A-Ball. Gotta find some local artists to paint some cool murals on your walls now That's the trend here with the local arcades and barcades.

    #172 3 months ago
    Quoted from nwpinball:

    Nice set up, it looks a little like a place here in Seattle called Add-A-Ball. Gotta find some local artists to paint some cool murals on your walls now That's the trend here with the local arcades and barcades.

    Thanks. Ah we just did that. Not by design, but because an artist asked me if she could and even brought sketches to look at. So should have a mural up in a few weeks at the entry way and its a pretty cool design. Will post when done.

    #173 3 months ago

    Yeah, except it's way too bright in there to ever be mistaken for AAB!

    Quoted from nwpinball:

    Nice set up, it looks a little like a place here in Seattle called Add-A-Ball. Gotta find some local artists to paint some cool murals on your walls now That's the trend here with the local arcades and barcades.

    #174 3 months ago

    I live in Portland, Oregon which is currently the most pins on location per capita city in the USA and possibly the world. What I've seen over the last decade of my involvement with the community is that a location that has beer/drinks and food stands a far better chance of anchoring people inside a given location. I also travel to Eugene, Oregon and Seattle a fair amount and the same stands true in these locales, blairally in Eugene Oregon being the most organically grown endeavor that I am aware of, the place is simply the best and they also offer several HDTVs that broadcast Portland Trailblazers games.

    I'd suggest reaching out to your local league organizers as well as consulting with other bar/restaurant owners, an ideal situation might be partnering with someone looking to do a bar and most importantly knows how to properly promote one. With the exception of the Seattle Pinball Museum (SPM) and Next Level (Hillsboro, Oregon) every location operates I am aware of in the Pacific NW operates on coin drop, for SPM this works out awesome as they are in the "international district" and next to the Amtrak station and the foot traffic of tourists is strong and constant. I think the "pay once" model works well for families and occasional visitors but for getting a regular scene going, you may want to consider moving to coins/tokens as some folks want to also get a beer and a burger for that 20.00 burning a hole in their pocket on a given Friday night.

    Ideally, you'd find some partners that know this industry to some degree and can write up a solid business plan.. I've seen the "build it and they will come" thing work out occasionally but nothing beats a solid location coupled with a locked in multi year lease as well as a team of people who can work together in a coordinated manner.

    Wishing you the best of success and hope I get to visit sometime!

    Quoted from pookycade:

    Thanks everyone for all the great suggestions. This is why I come here. Pinsiders helping pinsiders and improving availability of Pinball everywhere.
    We are going to follow several of these suggestions now and perhaps most importantly it will help govern the location we move to next in a couple of months.

    #175 3 months ago

    new place looks great! Just the right vibe.

    By the way, do you realize that you're basically doing what people have been doing for nearly 100 years now? It looks pretty much just like the old pinball halls.

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    2 weeks later
    #176 79 days ago
    Quoted from KHL:

    I live in Portland, Oregon which is currently the most pins on location per capita city in the USA and possibly the world. What I've seen over the last decade of my involvement with the community is that a location that has beer/drinks and food stands a far better chance of anchoring people inside a given location. I also travel to Eugene, Oregon and Seattle a fair amount and the same stands true in these locales, blairally in Eugene Oregon being the most organically grown endeavor that I am aware of, the place is simply the best and they also offer several HDTVs that broadcast Portland Trailblazers games.
    I'd suggest reaching out to your local league organizers as well as consulting with other bar/restaurant owners, an ideal situation might be partnering with someone looking to do a bar and most importantly knows how to properly promote one. With the exception of the Seattle Pinball Museum (SPM) and Next Level (Hillsboro, Oregon) every location operates I am aware of in the Pacific NW operates on coin drop, for SPM this works out awesome as they are in the "international district" and next to the Amtrak station and the foot traffic of tourists is strong and constant. I think the "pay once" model works well for families and occasional visitors but for getting a regular scene going, you may want to consider moving to coins/tokens as some folks want to also get a beer and a burger for that 20.00 burning a hole in their pocket on a given Friday night.
    Ideally, you'd find some partners that know this industry to some degree and can write up a solid business plan.. I've seen the "build it and they will come" thing work out occasionally but nothing beats a solid location coupled with a locked in multi year lease as well as a team of people who can work together in a coordinated manner.
    Wishing you the best of success and hope I get to visit sometime!

    So it just so happens that we are subleasing the space from these guys

    http://championbrewingcompany.com/

    So yeah we have already partnered up per se. I am going to let the owner guide me in on this. Still getting our legs under ourselves but this is the direction we are going for sure

    #177 79 days ago

    http://www.nbc29.com/story/39279580/popular-gaming-spot-reopens-with-new-name-and-location

    A nice story on us.

    Business has turned around quite a bit with the rebrand. Half income now from private parties and averaging some 40 people a night. Nobodies getting rich here but at least I’m not bleeding more cash here. It’s viable or appears to be so for the time being

    #178 78 days ago

    Congratulations- this is so good to hear!

    #179 77 days ago

    Well done. It’s looking good

    #181 77 days ago

    First of all, kudos for opening a pinball museum. For a while I had a small route, more
    as a hobby business than trying to make a living at it. One of the things I noticed
    is I had a dedicated core group of customers that would play regularly. And it
    was a diverse group from high school kids to olde farts (like me) that just
    enjoyed playing.

    I'd suggest seeking out those core players and getting them organized into
    a league that meets regularly. Offer prizes of some sort. From this group
    the word will spread. Bowling alleys have been doing this for a long time.
    Steve

    1 week later
    #182 66 days ago
    Quoted from zarco:

    First of all, kudos for opening a pinball museum. For a while I had a small route, more
    as a hobby business than trying to make a living at it. One of the things I noticed
    is I had a dedicated core group of customers that would play regularly. And it
    was a diverse group from high school kids to olde farts (like me) that just
    enjoyed playing.
    I'd suggest seeking out those core players and getting them organized into
    a league that meets regularly. Offer prizes of some sort. From this group
    the word will spread. Bowling alleys have been doing this for a long time.
    Steve

    Ah we have a weekly league, Dominion Pinball League that meets on Tuesdays there. Charge $5 a week which is pretty fair. About 20-25 people. Also run a monthly strike tournament with prizes that is growing in popularity slowly.

    11
    #183 66 days ago

    Another update, sometimes you get it right and it’s probably more dumb luck that careful planning. Now averaging 35-45 a nite and parties have become our mainstay to supplement that. Doing probably 1/3 our business from private parties.

    Most importantly have real employees now so I don’t have to be there all the time. Hourly, part time, but real.

    The location which seemed less than ideal to begin with has really worked out well. It has a funkiness to it that a rectangular box mini mall store front just can’t replicate.

    But there are some huge downsides to being in a warehouse that hasn’t been occupied for several years I’ve learned. Despite the very reasonable rent, heating is a nightmare and has to be redone, I can’t use the upstairs until we bring it up to code with new stairs and lally columns per structural engineer, electrical is being redone so that we have better capacity, painting 16 foot high walls damn near killed me, bathroom had to be entirely redone, couple roof leaks need to be addressed. Basically this place was the farthest away from “move in ready” that you could ever get. And when having to deal with this upfront it feels like a non stop cha-ching but in the reverse direction. Not losing more money but due to ongoing expenses not yet getting ahead.

    But despite all the hassle of this place my town has seemingly embraced it. And I do too. Wouldn’t trade it for a mall storefront ever. It has its own character. And we have a small devoted contingent that treats this as all our own worlds biggest man cave to keep it fully running.

    Been a wild ride and will be interested to see where it goes next

    2 months later
    #184 7 hours ago

    Another quick update. After 3 months in business in our new location it seems we just keep growing. Counting parties, league and public hours we just surpassed 500 people in one week for the first time.

    We are still treading water financially mainly because our income is being used to pay for things like a new furnace that can bring our temp to 65 degrees, structural mods of the upstairs so we can finally use it to have a party room, etc. But I can at least pay for real employees, machine repairs, a new addition or two without worrying about acruing more debt.

    What’s my big takeaway here ? Don’t discount the power of random dumb luck as to whether you find success or not. In our old location we had nights with 9 people. Last weekend we had 100 walk thru the door in 2 hours in our new place 1.5 miles away. I’d love to claim brilliance and a new marketing strategy and fixing all that was wrong with the old model. Nah. It has pretty much been blind stupid luck.

    #185 1 hour ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    It has pretty much been blind stupid luck.

    Location, location, location. Well done. It sounds like your having a blast. Keep the updates coming.

    #186 1 hour ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    Another quick update. After 3 months in business in our new location it seems we just keep growing. Counting parties, league and public hours we just surpassed 500 people in one week for the first time.
    We are still treading water financially mainly because our income is being used to pay for things like a new furnace that can bring our temp to 65 degrees, structural mods of the upstairs so we can finally use it to have a party room, etc. But I can at least pay for real employees, machine repairs, a new addition or two without worrying about acruing more debt.
    What’s my big takeaway here ? Don’t discount the power of random dumb luck as to whether you find success or not. In our old location we had nights with 9 people. Last weekend we had 100 walk thru the door in 2 hours in our new place 1.5 miles away. I’d love to claim brilliance and a new marketing strategy and fixing all that was wrong with the old model. Nah. It has pretty much been blind stupid luck.

    What has been your feedback from your party bookers?

    How did they find you?
    Are they repeats? Are they recommending you?

    You were really trying to protect the 'walk up' access at the old location, yet you are having better success here... Is the location visible? Have any idea how people are discovering you now.. vs before?

    Thx for the updates, it's been great following along

    #187 1 hour ago
    Quoted from Luckydogg420:

    Location, location, location. Well done. It sounds like your having a blast. Keep the updates coming.

    That plus hard work and perseverance. Badass story, kudos to you.

    #188 36 minutes ago
    Quoted from pookycade:

    It has pretty much been blind stupid luck.

    You're not giving yourself hardly any credit at all. These people aren't coming in because it's raining out, you've obviously built an experience that attracts people. People want to have birthdays there. People like to return. People talk about it and attract new people.

    You're making money in a business most people are unable to. Congrats on a job well done, no luck involved in my opinion.

    #189 13 minutes ago

    Just wanted to pop in and say congratulations!! It's not often that someone is able to turn a passion for a hobby into a successful business. Here's hoping to many years of sustainability.

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