I had breakfast this morning at a coffee shop near RePlay’s office. When I asked for the check, the waiter (whom I know well) asked if I was “going home now?” I smiled and said I was going to work (guess he doesn’t know me very well). I’m 77, and like a lot of others who, one way or another, make a living out of the jukebox and games business, I see a lot of wisdom in the adage “retire and expire.” Of course, life is a little different when you have your own business than if you’ve been putting caps on beer bottles for a career. But, I also know that in the coin-op world, plenty of people would admit that their business IS their life. . . that is, if they’re honest.
I’ve met a ton of people during my many years covering this trade, and the ones who stand out are those who’ve impressed me with their friendship (yes) but most certainly with their integrity. I produce a feature for RePlay called “Where Are They Now” that’s one of the more popular things we publish because it tells long time readers where some of the old soldiers are and what they’re doing these days. I also think they like these stories because it shows there IS a life after coin-op after all.
If you’ve been following this feature, you’ll have noticed subjects like Chuck Milhem, Jerry Marcus and last month’s Neal Rosenberg were all standup guys before they completed their many years of “active duty” in the trenches. They were among the many “good guys” who gave customers their best efforts. . .guys who believed that honesty and fair play in business sit next to each other at the north pole of the moral compass. Guys who’d give you the “true skinny” about what they were selling rather than the “razzmatazz” which sometimes masquerades as “marketing.”
There are people in this world like the actor Alan Arkin who famously said in the movie Little Miss Sunshine: “It’s not a lie if you say it in business.” That statement is a lie all by itself. It makes no difference if you promote a girl at the bar by telling her you once won an Olympic gold meda or exaggerate the initial earnings of a new game. I like people who tell it like it really is, whether that’s the true count in the cash can, the real value of player card swipes and accounting software systems and (in my case) readership numbers.
But, that’s my world. Yours? It gets tiresome to read this but if you rig a redemption game just to put some extra dollars in the till, it’s not only dishonest, but according to the respected operator and educator Frank Seninsky, it’s “stupid!” It’s nothing short of bad “bottom line” business! Playing fair with this industry’s products and services automatically brings more than a fair amount of play back from the public. Naïve’? I truly don’t think so. I’ve been around this business a very long time and have seen fair play win out every time.