Enjoying Arcade Fun With the Grandkids
by Jack Guarnieri, Jersey Jack Pinball & PinballSales.com
As I write this column, it’s the first week of November, 77 degrees and sunny. I’ll take it! In fact, yesterday, Joanne and I took the grandkids to an arcade “down the shore” to play some games.
Olivia is 6 going on 16 and Garry is almost 4 with the wisdom of 14. The arcade was packed, which was nice to see and we arrived during happy hour (which is really two hours) when everything is half-price.
This arcade runs on debit cards but the games award physical tickets…and I know why. They subscribe to the old-time belief that kids like to see and hold paper tickets. I get it. That said, every center that runs on cards that I’ve ever had anything to do with, awarded no physical tickets, storing the tickets on the card instead. Kids today know that better than I do –– no buying tickets and throwing away more trash keeping attendants busy refilling tickets.
Well, the grandkids won lots of tickets, which was cool. Olivia wanted to play Big Bass Wheel. As she waited for her turn, we watched as it took over five minutes for the player’s tickets to come out as the game slowly counted down. During the time we waited, we weren’t spending money on anything else, which isn’t good for the bottom line.
I must say the kids had a blast and watching them have fun made us smile. Eventually, we ran out of credits so next up was the “fun” of loading the tickets into a machine for counting. It jammed and we had to get a kid to open it, clear the jam and close it all while several other people had to wait for their turn. The lady behind us asked if the tickets are recycled, but nobody answered.
We got the slips of paper with the ticket totals and it was off to the prize counter. The kids collected a couple of whoopee cushions, some spider rings and Dracula teeth and we were off to dinner. In the car, they laughed endlessly playing with the whoopee cushions, both of which ripped on the way to eat. Super grandma Joanne went on Amazon and bought six for $12 that arrived today. So far, two of those are ripped so don’t be surprised if you hear I started a whoopee cushion company!
So, physical tickets because the kids like to see them or no physical tickets because that’s better for the environment (not to mention operations)? I have no turtle in the race and I get it when a location keeps on doing what has worked for so long. It’s the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” way of thinking. What I can tell you is that the place was packed with smiling customers so they must be doing something right!
Experts will tell you what to do but remember that you are the expert when it comes to your own business. If you’re doing what works, follow your gut and keep your customers happy so they come back again.
Enjoy the holidays and best wishes for an amazing 2023.
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 was an operator in NYC, then began a distributorship in 1999, PinballSales.com, selling coin-op to the consumer market. In January of 2011, he founded Jersey Jack Pinball (named after his RePlay Magazine pen name), which builds award-winning, full-featured, coin-op pinball machines. Email Jack at jack@ jerseyjackpinball.com.