I hope one of the things lots of operators found useful during this pandemic was reading RePlay…not just the headlines and the ads, but some of the stories that, I admit, sometimes look more like homework than fun. However, there’s loads of value in the stories we’re running inside this issue. And they’re not all about the pain of the moment but the pluck of those in the business who’ve knuckled down, learned how to keep the door open by doing new things, and prepare for the start of a genuine recovery they honestly believe will be coming in the new year.
If (when?) you go through these “reopening stories,” some common thoughts will turn up, like the collective belief that recovery will begin in earnest mid-2021, not earlier but God willing, not later. You’ll see that the route business has been hurting worse than the FEC side, especially the bar-intensive routes suffering from limited hours, unplugged games and locks on the door. But, generally speaking, these guys sense that brighter days are coming and the idea is to do everything to hold on until then.
It’s important to note that earnings, while definitely off, aren’t too far off for a lot of operating companies. Route and FEC expenses are obviously down, just like the clientele coming through the door. Though crippling for some, the overall cash box isn’t all that bad. Call it “survival money” if you will. I hope that most reading this fall on the good side of that ledger.
Another common thought you’ll get from these articles is that the playing public is just dying to get back at it. Many cooped up at home since forever are antsy as all get out to run out the door and do something fun! As expected, the general public hasn’t been spending a whole lot of money on anything, and personal savings may have been building up. Some economists actually feel a genuine boom awaits the end of this bust. Older operators know very well what a boom feels like, and will never forget the days when every electronic pinball and video game business could put the kids through college with no sweat and leave lots for Mom and Dad to spend in Barbados.
There are sure to be vaccines coming and not just the one from Pfizer. Functional vaccines will be the keys to recovery, no doubt. But distribution of the drug and administration of it to Ted and Sally will be a giant hurdle for government and the medical industry to whip. In the meantime, there’s a dreadful upsurge in infections in the land and the need for you and yours to be super careful you don’t get stung. Thanksgiving and Christmas may be disappointing, but rules are rules.
The Bible says “To every thing, turn, turn, turn.” There is a time to heal coming for the world and the people in it. Have a safe holiday…and be careful out there!