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Thread: Hypothetically How Much To Start A Pinball Arcade?

  1. #51
    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    Oop, just looked it up and the place I’m was thinking of is a barcade featuring craft beers. No help on the hypothetical!

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    Senior Member Gorgias32's Avatar
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    I like the idea of wiring up at least some of the machines for streaming - having that gear configured and stable and in place could make it a destination for people who want to stream/record their competitions or record video tutorials. It would definitely be a unique feature, and I could see it being very attractive for leagues and organizations running competitive events.

    My vote is that you go ahead and do it - quit your job and open "Shut Your Traps's Pinball Arcade". You could even sell your house and move your family into living in the basement of the arcade, in order to pay for the machines, liquor license, and the first month's electric bill.

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    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gorgias32 View Post
    I like the idea of wiring up at least some of the machines for streaming - having that gear configured and stable and in place could make it a destination for people who want to stream/record their competitions or record video tutorials. It would definitely be a unique feature, and I could see it being very attractive for leagues and organizations running competitive events.

    My vote is that you go ahead and do it - quit your job and open "Shut Your Traps's Pinball Arcade". You could even sell your house and move your family into living in the basement of the arcade, in order to pay for the machines, liquor license, and the first month's electric bill.
    Haha, basement. Not a SoCal feature. Earthquakes, ya know?

    Also, it’d be the BlahCade Pinball Palace. Or Emporium. Parlor? Whatever. Do up our logo in neon, have a pair of giant flippers on either side of the entry, movie poster frames in the window advertising featured pins. Crowd of surly teens hanging out in the parking lot. I can see it all so vividly!

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    A world of pure imagination?

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    Lordy, mobile pinball doesn't just mean smartphones.

    https://www.pinballpartybus.com/our-bus

    Also just occurred to me what it would be called if the machines were set to free play. You hear of it all the time, people doing what their name sounds like.
    Last edited by wilbers; 04-26-2019 at 05:32 PM.

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    Senior Member Citizen's Avatar
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    I thought mobile pinball just meant playing on a cement floor.

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    Senior Member ZREXMike2's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shutyertrap View Post
    Oop, just looked it up and the place I’m was thinking of is a barcade featuring craft beers. No help on the hypothetical!
    nope, nobody sloshing booze on my 10k pinball machines

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    Senior Member wolfson's Avatar
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    ZREXMike come on bro , courtyard with these lovely American beer chairs , well away from the pinnies !!!

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    Senior Member MBeeching's Avatar
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    Missed this topic but thoroughly enjoyed the discussion on the latest Podcast, great to hear others share these thoughts, hopes and shattered dreams. My ambitions would also feature craft beers, an area where I do at least have some experience and useful connections. May as well include pizza for good measure!

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    Another one gone beyond the hypothetical into the actual and opened 2 weeks ago. https://www.retroarcade.co/ Much more arcade machines than pinball, and includes a licensed bar.

  11. #61
    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    Wow, a whopping four pinball machines. Unless it was right in my neighborhood, I wouldn’t even bother.

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    Its 4 to start with. Think the idea is that if its successful they'll use profits to buy more of the pricier machines later - will be one to have another look at in a few months and see what happens. Its about 2 hours from me, but I have the big disadvantage that there are no commercially run pinball machines anywhere in Cumbria (or at least none that I know of). If I happened to be going near there for anything else (unlikely, but not impossible) I'd visit it then, otherwise it is indeed too far.

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    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    That’s my point of wanting a true pinball arcade to go to. If that’s the focus, then you know it’ll be well looked after. I guarantee those 4 pins they have are going to fall by the wayside because of the constant attention they need in comparison to all the arcade cabs. They won’t be cleaned, bulbs will burn out, rubber hardened, bum flippers or drop targets never fixed. Because of that people won’t play, which will make the owners think its a lack of interest in pinball, not the condition of the machines.

    I’ve been to arcades like this, pointed out what needs to be fixed, only to revisit a few months later and see the exact same machines only worse now. Contrast that with Pinball Hall of Fame in Vegas, a non profit venture itself, where if there’s a problem with a machine they’ll just turn it off until they can fix it, or pull it from the floor completely. I don’t make it to Vegas often, but I never fail to visit PHoF if I do. Very excited to see what becomes of the new location they are building on the Strip.

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    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    I just finished reading a book by Peter Hook, bass player from New Order, called "The Hacienda: How Not To Run A Club" which was even more fascinating to me considering this very thread. Now I'm not saying a nightclub from the mid 80's has much in common with a pinball arcade, but the very act of finding a space, building it out, and then managing it really hit home. It's a fascinating read in that every mistake that could be made, they made. It grew into a wildly popular hot spot and was open for 15 years, yet it never turned enough of a profit to pay off their debts. Most of that was because of boneheaded decisions before ever opening the doors (signing a 25 year lease when they could have just bought the land, having the local brewery help with financing which meant never getting a discount on beer thus not being able to turn a profit on any sold, being open 7 days a week in the first year despite never attracting more than 40 people Sunday-Wednesday, and of course gross mismanagement of money).

    There were other decisions design wise that cost them a fortune. They had this wonderful brass railing that looked fantastic, until sweaty dancing patrons put their hands all over it, thus tarnishing the shine. It would then take someone an hour to clean it back up each night. They spent loads on particular color choices for paint that once the club was filled and lights were going, nobody ever saw. So many of the mistakes that were made were because not a single person behind The Hacienda had ever run a club before, they had only ever attended them. That of course is exactly me with pinball.

    I still think I could make it work though!
    I'm just sayin'

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    Senior Member Striker's Avatar
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    Get a Big Lebowski pin in it and I’ll come running.

    Every successful arcade nowadays seems to keep the doors open by seving alcohol. The Cidercade in Dallas is a good example. Most pins are in good shape.

    Pinball Pete’s in Ann Arbor seems to be the exception. It has a great location and tradition. The new pins are well-maintained and set up at tournament play or close to it. Four quarters for a game and it goes fast. Some older pins are in bad shape. Addams Family would record a drain when the ball is still in play. On South Park the ball would always get stuck on Kenny. Weak flippers on Indiana Jones made the pin unplayable. But most customers didn’t play pinball. They mostly played air hockey or shoot-em-ups. Or Galaga, the undisputed arcade moneymaker of all time.

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    Quote Originally Posted by shutyertrap View Post
    That’s my point of wanting a true pinball arcade to go to. If that’s the focus, then you know it’ll be well looked after. I guarantee those 4 pins they have are going to fall by the wayside because of the constant attention they need in comparison to all the arcade cabs. They won’t be cleaned, bulbs will burn out, rubber hardened, bum flippers or drop targets never fixed. Because of that people won’t play, which will make the owners think its a lack of interest in pinball, not the condition of the machines.

    I’ve been to arcades like this, pointed out what needs to be fixed, only to revisit a few months later and see the exact same machines only worse now. Contrast that with Pinball Hall of Fame in Vegas, a non profit venture itself, where if there’s a problem with a machine they’ll just turn it off until they can fix it, or pull it from the floor completely. I don’t make it to Vegas often, but I never fail to visit PHoF if I do. Very excited to see what becomes of the new location they are building on the Strip.
    The very local place to us started slow and now they have expanded the building I think doubled (or better) their pinball machines. They have issues on a couple tables, CV with no boom in the balloon, I don't think Monopoly is centered right as the ball keeps getting stuck, and the number of working lights on Hulk is sad, but the vast majority of their tables, it is working well.

    I think the critical thing for Pinball place would be having a well reimbursed mechanic on-call.

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    It occurred to me that a bakery/cafe could be an even better idea as people are willing to pay absurd amounts of money for coffee and pastries. Granted, cooking pastries requires actual baker skills, though croissants and pies could be pretty easy to manage and require fewer ingredients (relative to a menu of other foods), just salt, butter, flour (which keep easily) and filling, and then the coffee. This also transitions the place from mostly adult friendly to kid friendly!

    Though probably wouldn't be as big a night-life scene as a bar, but a potential gain is that the croissants would allow for very late hours as prep for that is late night stuff anyway.

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    Senior Member Citizen's Avatar
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    I think keeping kids away from your machines by default is actually one of the perks of a barcade, honestly.

    With a bakecade (a registered trademark of Citizen, Inc.), now you've got little kids AND they've got sticky fingers.

    Also, don't people who sit around bakeries/cafés/coffee shops usually do so to relax a little in a calming environment? Not sure that crowd would want pinball machine cacophony right next to them.

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    Senior Member Fungi's Avatar
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    I'm just automatically turned off at the thought of sticky icing on flipper buttons.

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    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    I keep coming back to this thought; I’ve driven 350 miles to visit the PHoF in Vegas and driven 90 minutes to visit the Museum of Pinball in Banning, CA, both being nothing more than pinball arcades. I’ve yet to drive 20 miles to visit the nearest bar/pinball venue. Make of that what you will.

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    Senior Member Fungi's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shutyertrap View Post
    I keep coming back to this thought; I’ve driven 350 miles to visit the PHoF in Vegas and driven 90 minutes to visit the Museum of Pinball in Banning, CA, both being nothing more than pinball arcades. I’ve yet to drive 20 miles to visit the nearest bar/pinball venue. Make of that what you will.
    Don't do it! Go read your first post again. That should wake you back up.

  22. #72
    Senior Member Citizen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shutyertrap View Post
    I keep coming back to this thought; I’ve driven 350 miles to visit the PHoF in Vegas and driven 90 minutes to visit the Museum of Pinball in Banning, CA, both being nothing more than pinball arcades. I’ve yet to drive 20 miles to visit the nearest bar/pinball venue. Make of that what you will.
    So what you're saying is you need to start a pinball museum.

  23. #73
    Moderator shutyertrap's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Citizen View Post
    So what you're saying is you need to start a pinball museum.
    Absolutely! Accepting donations now.

    It’s funny though, the dude that started the Pacific Pinball Museum started with 2 machines. He said he picked up a few more and ran out of space in the house. So he moved them to a location that he then opened to the public and called it a ‘museum’. Soon people were donating machines to him in various states of disrepair, he’d fix ‘em and add them to the collection. He now has a giant warehouse of machines as well as what’s in the actual museum location.

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    Not the only place that started small.

    Back of a computer repair shop to 2 floors in a mill, and still growing. https://www.arcadeclub.co.uk/history/

    In common with the Pacific Pinball Museum, also good at repairs just that most of it isn't pinball.

    Maybe that is the safe way, no massive loans for machines involved, repair machines yourself (just need to get the ability to so first).

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    As this thread all started out as a hypothetical, how about running virtual machines instead - it seems an incredibly niche thing, but someone is in fact developing it - you can fix virtual pinball machines (or at least you can if you wait until next year). Not convinced there is a market for it, but time will tell.

    https://store.steampowered.com/app/1...pper_Mechanic/

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