Like sailors cruising over the International Dateline, the coin-op trade has crossed over Memorial Day, entering into the summer season of 2018. In a take on the cliché “one man’s meat is another man’s poison,” we’re now facing “one man’s boom is another man’s bust.” School’s out and so are a lot of families who are leaving their cities and towns and venturing out into vacation land, bringing their play money with them and causing what’s sometimes called the “coin-op summer slump.”
Many route operators have served what are called “seasonal locations” with coin-operated equipment for years. Supplying seasonal campgrounds, resorts and other places whose principle trade comes between Memorial Day and Labor Day is kind of labor and travel-intensive, though hardly as tough as covering a party rental where it seems like you’re picking the machines up ten minutes after you drop them off. But seasonal spots make plus-dollars for the business or, at the least, make up for a drop in summer collections at the regular accounts.
Now you’re thinking “tell me something I don’t already know.” Fair enough, I will. The times we presently live and work in are defined by one word: redemption! Yes, it’s become sensible to put some cranes and merchandisers on the truck going out to the country (did I mention a generous mix of plush and other prizes, too?) along with those older uprights, dart boards and other coin-op “summer stars.”
If you think lugging plush cranes and self-merchandisers around the territory doesn’t fit into the normal route’s “business model,” think again. Do you know the late Gordon Smart, founder of one of the industry’s foremost crane manufacturers, got into that business lugging cranes and prizes to state fairs before he settled down to making them at a factory in Des Moines? And the idea of “traveling arcades” is hardly new: RePlay ran a feature on them way, way back in one of our late ’70s issues.
Summertime offers unique opportunities to people who know how to operate coin machines. Please remember that vending and bulk –– and even penny pressers, Zelda the Teller and those foot massagers –– are coin-operated, too, and fit right in! Few businessmen know as much about your market territory as you do, so put that imagination to work while the getting’s good and do more this summer than work on that tan!