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November 2014

Jack GuarnieriJ
by Jack Guarnieri
ersey Jack

Holidays on the Horizon

I have a busy travel and show schedule as we release three slightly different models of The Hobbit Pinball machine in the coming weeks. At this writing, we have orders for over 1,200 games, and we have not even shown the full game yet.
Yes, to some customers, we sell everything nobody needs. Since the start I’ve been told that demand is a good problem. But it’s a problem still, and one that we have been overcoming. It gets a bit easier with every model we design and build.

Looking at my calendar, I see the fast approaching IAAPA, Thanksgiving and, for me, Christmas.

Thinking about the holidays, with seven weeks to go until Black Friday as of this writing, the National Retail Federation just reported that the slow improvement in the economy should translate into an increase in retail sales between 4 and 4.5 percent from November through January.

Last year there were six less shopping days and very bad weather in much of the U.S. Online sales the final weekend before Christmas were reportedly up over 37% over the year before. Last year, many people waited until the last minute to order online and FedEx, UPS and the USPS were swamped and faced weather delays causing many gifts to be delivered on the third or fifth day of Christmas. Those in the know predict online sales this year could be up between 8-11 percent.

Deep discounting will still be a big part of customer motivation. New electronics, clothing, jewelry, gift cards, are easy online purchases for many. Many people showroom, or check out goods in person, and then go online to buy. We all seem to have less time and none of us want to shortchange those to whom we want to give gifts.

The first sign of Christmas I saw this year was in August while at a Price-Smart in Aruba. They actually had Christmas trees on display. That was very sobering while it was over 90 degrees outside and I was wearing shorts. “Christmas Creep” has been going on for years, but starting in August really takes the cake. Fortunately, it looks like there may be a happy holiday season this year for many retailers. Let’s hope so.

Since we sell everything nobody needs, as I love to say, many of our customers celebrate the holiday season every day. To the coin-op customers we sell to, it’s a matter of getting the games onto their locations so they can make money.

Apart from religion, “The Reason for the Season” is now ultimately retail sales, but a stronger economy creates better conditions for all of our families. The all-important Black Friday is the point in the year where many retailers start making their profits so we certainly hope that it is a rosy holiday season and the predictions of an economic upturn come to pass.
I can say that many of our vendors are busier this year than they were last year and many are in better shape to deliver goods to us. If I look at it on ground level, the feeling among many people I speak with is more positive than negative.

If it does not kill you, it makes you stronger. Unfortunately, the Economic Crisis did kill many businesses. The good news is that those who survived are in better shape today.

See you at IAAPA.


Jack Guarnieri started servicing electro-mechanical pinball machines in 1975 and has been involved in every phase of the amusement game business since then. He operated a substantial game route in Brooklyn, N.Y., and developed amusement centers including Fuzzy’s Family Fun Factory. In 1999, he founded Pinball-Sales.com to sell coin-op to the home market. Last year, Jack founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which is designing and developing full-featured, full-sized commercial-arcade pinball machines for manufacture in early 2012. The first game is based on a licensed theme, the timeless The Wizard of Oz. To learn more, visit www.jerseyjackpinball.com. You can email him at jack@jerseyjackpinball.com or by phoning him directly at 800/473-JACK.

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