Back in the days of black & white movies, actors Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn did star turns in an epic called Pat and Mike. It was the story of a gifted lady athlete (Pat) and a sports agent named Mike who’s been sent by a pal to check out her “credentials.”
The very first time he sees the lady, she’s teeing off on the golf course. His eyes drink in all the necessaries, like her swing, her stance, and her overall build… after which, he says the line in the script that became one of cinema’s classics: “There ain’t much meat on her…but what there is, is choice!” Now let’s take a wild leap and see what this has to do with the amusement machine business (as if some of you haven’t already guessed.)
Inside this edition, you’ll find a large collection of individual messages from all levels of the trade responding to a RePlay email that asks the personal question: “What’s been going on in your life during the Covid-19 pandemic?” Responses range from amusing, to thoughtful, to useful, to depressing. Several stood out, one of which came from Virginia route operator Charles Rowland.
Due to pandemic restrictions, this industry veteran said he actually pulled all of his equipment from around two thirds of his locations! While one big reason was the mandated distancing of tables at restaurants, bars being shuttered, etc., the other locations fell into what we call “economically marginal.” Besides games and jukeboxes, it’s necessary to note that Charles Rowland operates the gambling-styled “skill games” which his state of Virginia charges $1,200 a month per-machine to operate; that was another good reason to jettison marginal locations to avoid the license fees that came with them.
What’s most interesting is that the remaining 30% of his accounts have been making around 70% of the income his whole route did pre-pandemic! “I guess the old 70/30 rule is (still) in effect,” he observed.
If this is the case at a lot of other route operations, when this nation’s industries finally reboot and life returns to some sort of normalcy, the jukebox and games business will be leaner, but much more profitable on a per-location average than before we had to wear masks.
There is also the thought that a lot of people hunkering down at home have been saving more than ever, and that when the remaining bars, restaurants, arcades and FECs reopen, an economic boom awaits those operators who toughed out this nasty pandemic.
We like to say that lessons are being learned during this siege. Well, one of the best just might be to take a stricter approach to what equipment you buy and where you place it out there. And when we finally get back to publishing our Players’ Choice charts here at RePlay, we hope they’ll help everyone remember Coin-Op Rule #70/30!