Hey, everybody. I haven’t updated my blog in two weeks. This, although not completely terrible, is not my ideal posting schedule. And those of you who regularly read my blog have probably noticed this dearth of content, too. While I don’t want to make too many excuses—besides schoolwork, writing a massive article for Replay, and working on three intensive reviews all at once—I do have one really good alibi that I’d like to cash in. I haven’t posted lately because…I’ve broken into the coin-op business!
First, let’s run through some backstory. For the past six months or so, I’ve been working on snatching up as many budget-friendly coin-operated games as possible. My first big opportunity came in September 2018 when the local roller rink went out of business. I ditched school for the auction and purchased The House of the Dead, Target: Terror, The Fast and the Furious, Fun-E-Ball, and small change machine for the more-than-reasonable sum of $763.73. (If that sounds a little insane given my age, keep in mind that I’ve had part-time jobs and existing savings at my disposal throughout most of this journey.)
Unfortunately, those games were in rough shape, and though they’re coming together quite nicely now, they still like to fight me at every turn. I did, however, pick up some fully working games in early January 2019. Adam Lamb of Lamb Computers and Arcades—also known as the guy I bought my 60-in-1 Multicade from—had Wrestlemania and Skins Game for sale, and I snagged both for $300 each.
To most reading, this probably sounds like a lot of expense with very little return. And that…well, I mean, that’s absolutely right. None of these games were yet on location, and I knew I that had to change. So, I applied for a local business license and was ready to commence operation by February 8th. Because I’m obviously not in a position to open up a full-fledged dedicated arcade at 17 years old, I wanted to jump into the revenue-share sector of the market.
The only problem was that I didn’t have any clients—but I wasn’t gonna let that stop me. I visited local businesses, getting a feel for who might be interested, and I soon found my first partnership. On February 16th, 2019 I placed a game in my first ever location: Brenda’s Snack Shack.
For those who don’t live in my area (so likely most of you) Brenda’s is a neat 1950s-themed shake shop/diner that’s been around for a little under two years. The theming made it a bit of an odd choice for video games, so I stocked it with the most fitting piece I had, Fun-E-Ball, with a gumball machine coming very soon. Seeing one of my games in someone else’s location—fully operational and ready to dole out smiles—was beyond cool. This was the moment I had been dreaming of since I started this blog back in February 2017.
Now, in the present, I sure as heck ain’t stopping here. I plan to scout out more locations, secure more partnerships, and buy more gumball machines. (And video games, too.) Of course, I won’t see what my current earnings look like until I pull out the Fun-E-Ball cash box in March. But until then, let it be known that I’m not in this solely for the money. I’m in the coin-op business because I love video games, and quite frankly, my town is sorely lacking video games. I want to fill a need, to make people happy, and to provide players with more options. Are pieces like Fun-E-Ball exactly how I intend to do that? Maybe not, but they’re a great start.
Since it’s been a while since I’ve posted here, I hope this article provides some much needed insight as to my absence. I’m in a good place right now, and it can only get better. Sure, I’m starting with skill-based prize dispensers and older video games. Yeah, my reach is incredibly small. But you know what? I don’t feel like waiting. I wanna do coin-op, and by golly, I’m doing coin-op. For the future of my route, I see exA-Arcadia, Airframe, and a whole lotta locations. (You certainly can’t say I don’t have ambition.)
Before I sign off, I’d like to thank everyone who’s worked with me so far, be it folks “IRL” or fellow arcade enthusiasts online. (Y’all don’t even wanna know how many times I asked Adam Pratt for help when troubleshooting repairs, heh-heh.) I, for one, am super pumped for the future of Wilcox Arcade and the coin-op industry as a whole.
Keep it real, ya sweaty flippin’ nerds!