(Topic ID: 107952)

Routing / Vending... Thoughts?

By robbiedoo

7 years ago


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  • 20 posts
  • 10 Pinsiders participating
  • Latest reply 6 years ago by dementedwarlok
  • Topic is favorited by 1 Pinsider

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    #1 7 years ago

    I know, this has been covered before for pinball. But I'm curious about people's experiences with other vending... redemption games (like those stack games), soda pop or those quarter bulk candy machines.

    I've been discussing the possibility of a side business with a friend, and we're not sure if its worth trying of not. I've looked around quite a bit to get info on others stories and experiences, and I get a mixed bag: "It's not worth it" vs. "it's a decent part time side business that can grow if you want it to".

    Is anyone currently, or have recently, worked with vending? I would love to hear thoughts on the topic, as well as any considerations noobs might not think about, tips, warnings... anything.

    We're very tempted to buy a machine or two, at least to get a feel for the process on a minute scale. Even if it's not super profitable from the start, it would be a great learning experience.

    I would like to try and start looking at placement options, but feel walking in and saying "Well, if I DID have a machine, would you be interested?". I figure I should have a machine ready if I'm serious enough to start looking at placement options.

    I figure the least I can do is ask others about their experience, you can never have too much information.

    #2 7 years ago

    If you have a distributor, talk to them.

    Vending - check for mark up in your area, may not be worth it.

    Redemption - check for anything regulating prize values in your area, this will really effect it.

    Then check zoning, license, and insurance stuff.

    LTG : )™

    #3 7 years ago

    I know a guy who did really well with a pair of those Stacker games.
    Crazy good return till Oregon decided to outlaw them.
    I agree with the decision to ban them though, no need to train future slot machine players.

    #4 7 years ago

    I don't have experience with this, but no one needs to know you don't actually have the machine you want to place. Strike a deal, tell them it'll arrive in a few weeks, and then go out and buy it.

    #5 7 years ago

    Bar-Berr-Cut games make crazy money, sometimes $2k a week.

    3 months later
    #6 6 years ago

    I'd be very interested in this as well. I'm looking at buying one to two new sterns to put in locations, preferably a busy bar and see what happens. Any advice, or thoughts/experiences would be appreciated. I'm strictly talking about pinballs too. I'm not sure about getting into other machines quite yet.

    #7 6 years ago
    Quoted from konghusker:

    I'd be very interested in this as well. I'm looking at buying one to two new sterns to put in locations, preferably a busy bar and see what happens. Any advice, or thoughts/experiences would be appreciated. I'm strictly talking about pinballs too. I'm not sure about getting into other machines quite yet.

    I wanted to do this also...but aborted. If you go about running a couple games on route the "right way"... LLC fees, insurance fees, license fees, split, and then personal taxes will destroy any money to be made. I think it could work for bigger operations, but just a few games...you're in it for the love of pinball. Now, if you're willing to operate with out any personal protections (LLC/Insurance) and run it as an under the table business, you might make a few extra bucks. I wasn't willing to go about it the second way, and it just doesn't add up to being worth while.

    #8 6 years ago
    Quoted from konghusker:

    I'm looking at buying one to two new sterns to put in locations, preferably a busy bar and see what happens.

    Busy bar. With an operator already in there with pool tables, darts, buck hunter, golden tee live, juke box ?

    You are gonna see what happens.

    LTG : )™

    #9 6 years ago

    LTG, I was thinking more along the lines of our college bars downtown. Most of them don't have arcade type games in them, and definitely not pinball. Of course the ones that do, have contracts with other vendors. If not in bars, then I was thinking in big corporate business buildings. I don't know, it's just a fun idea to have a small route to maintain and run. I know it wouldn't make anybody rich, but would be fun, and hopefully the pinballs would eventually pay themselves off too.

    #10 6 years ago

    When I first came to Pinside I thought Lloyd was a negative grump, but then I learned over time he was just trying to spare us the hardship.

    There are hobby ops on pinside that have made a go of things. Maybe it is time for a subforum or something so that shared knowledge (both good and bad) doesn't get lost in the noise.

    #11 6 years ago
    Quoted from frolic:

    Maybe it is time for a subforum or something so that shared knowledge (both good and bad) doesn't get lost in the noise.

    https://pinside.com/pinball/forum/topic/operating-pinball-machines-on-location-club

    #12 6 years ago
    Quoted from konghusker:

    LTG, I was thinking more along the lines of our college bars downtown. Most of them don't have arcade type games in them, and definitely not pinball. Of course the ones that do, have contracts with other vendors. If not in bars, then I was thinking in big corporate business buildings. I don't know, it's just a fun idea to have a small route to maintain and run. I know it wouldn't make anybody rich, but would be fun, and hopefully the pinballs would eventually pay themselves off too.

    You just have to be prepared for stupid crap like...

    -Some idiot decides to push on the back box really hard and game tips over and hurts someone.
    -Someone bangs their hand on the glass and gets lacerations.
    -Some kid sticks their finger in the coin slot and goes to the ER for a $2,500 stitch-up.
    -Machine isn't grounded right and someone gets shocked.
    -Something fries in the back box and emits that awful "forest is on fire smell" and half the customers leave the bar...and the owner starts looking for some lost revenue.
    -Machine catches fire for some crazy reason

    You'll want to insure yourself...because, sad as it is, someone will come looking to you for compensation.

    I know some people are fine operating as an individual...but you are best off creating an LLC, for separation of personal assets (just to make sure some idiot that decides to take you to court can't raid your personal money).

    Then you also have all of the issues with location games. Let's say it's 11:30 at night and a bunch of folks have pulled together a mini tournament on your machines and a ball gets stuck...or a wire breaks and a ball won't launch into the trough. All of a sudden you have the owner/manager of the establishment calling you to come fix the problem because he/she wants customers to be happy. Are you willing to roll out of bed and go? Are you willing to leave keys to someone and have them removing glass and possibly lifting a playfield?

    Then you'll also have to rotate games...if your game goes sour after 3 months, do you have a replacement game? If your game goes down for a few weeks, do you game in reserve to put on location?

    Not trying to be the Debbie-Downer...but modern day operating is tough to do as a small side thing.

    #13 6 years ago
    Quoted from 27dnast:

    You just have to be prepared for stupid crap like...

    -Some idiot decides to push on the back box really hard and game tips over and hurts someone.
    -Someone bangs their hand on the glass and gets lacerations.
    -Some kid sticks their finger in the coin slot and goes to the ER for a $2,500 stitch-up.
    -Machine isn't grounded right and someone gets shocked.
    -Something fries in the back box and emits that awful "forest is on fire smell" and half the customers leave the bar...and the owner starts looking for some lost revenue.
    -Machine catches fire for some crazy reason

    Have these happened to you, or are you just giving worst-case scenarios?

    Quoted from 27dnast:

    Then you also have all of the issues with location games. Let's say it's 11:30 at night and a bunch of folks have pulled together a mini tournament on your machines and a ball gets stuck...or a wire breaks and a ball won't launch into the trough. All of a sudden you have the owner/manager of the establishment calling you to come fix the problem because he/she wants customers to be happy. Are you willing to roll out of bed and go? Are you willing to leave keys to someone and have them removing glass and possibly lifting a playfield?

    This is unreasonable. If the owner expects 100% uptime at all costs, you should probably look elsewhere.

    #14 6 years ago
    Quoted from konghusker:

    If not in bars, then I was thinking in big corporate business buildings.

    This is a sweet gig if you can get it. Doesn't have to be big though - an office of 20 people is probably even better.

    #15 6 years ago

    Thanks for the input. All the bad things mentioned above are enough to scare anybody off. I think in a business location such as an office would make the most sense. Thanks for the input. It definitely leaves some things to consider.

    #16 6 years ago
    Quoted from konghusker:

    I don't know, it's just a fun idea to have a small route to maintain and run.

    Just think it through and do your homework so you have the best chance of it staying fun.

    So you don't sour on the hobby you used to like.

    LTG : )™

    #17 6 years ago
    Quoted from frolic:

    When I first came to Pinside I thought Lloyd was a negative grump, but then I learned over time he was just trying to spare us the hardship.

    I also hoped that anybody moving forward on their idea would have the best chance at success.

    LTG : )™

    #18 6 years ago

    I'm not trying to scare you... I was in your same situation last year. Talked to a few really cool ops who are on pinside, and then met with a lawyer, and it became evident that it would be a bad idea to put machines out as an individual. So, I paid for an LLC...and while the LLC is an insulator, the next recommendation was to get liability insurance (which wasn't easy to find...especially as a first timer...but also specifically for pinball).

    Those examples I gave are extreme, yes. But my point is this (and I only mention this because it sounds like you are kicking around the same idea I had...a few machines at a couple locations): What if. What if one of those occurred. They're are crazy, yes. But crazy happens because there are some crazy people out there. We've all been in bars at 2 AM. S**t happens. Also, we all know pinball machines are finicky...we had a coil lock on a few years ago on Thanksgiving Day with about 20 folks in our home. The smell was really overpowering and cleared out our game room for the rest of the day... stuff like that happens too.

    Other Ops did tell me stories about locations calling at odd hours because a machine had broken down...or a ball got stuck. And while I listened to this and thought "Okay, that's fine," what I hadn't really considered is: What about vacation? What if a machine goes down and you're away? Are you willing to show up at a bar 4 consecutive friday nights because of various issues?

    All things to consider. And there are some guys out there that make a total living off routing machines, and I completely respect that - not trying to knock it down.

    You also need to consider game license fees...you'll need to issue 1099's to locations if you hand over more than $600 (if you want to report income)...your state, if like Maryland, will likely have a an tax reporting fee (here in MD it's 300 bucks)...and then you have to decide if you'll report the income on your own taxes. Me, personally, decided that had to be a yes...which really left me wondering: How much cash would be left over?

    That's the reason I aborted. It felt like it was going to be too much of a headache and I really love pinball (didn't want to ruin it for myself)

    #19 6 years ago

    As soon as the state saw how much money stack'ems and bar ber cuts made they outlawed them since there was no easy way for them to get more money. It's only cool to waste your money on the state lotteries damnit!

    #20 6 years ago

    well my local guy says he has to reinforce the speakers on the sub of a pin. kids get under there and kick the speaker in. he also had a guy beat the heck out of his no fear because it would start a game.

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