With apologies to Ken Anderson and our other brothers and sisters of Scandinavian descent, I’m going to mention that yarn about the Swedish fruit grower who uttered the famous phrase: “Just when I learned to say ‘jelly’ they changed it to ‘yam.’” In other words, after spending years learning the skills of a particular business…like making money by putting coin-operated machines in bars, restaurants and game centers…along come new ways to do old tricks. For example, ask yourself how long it took before you placed your first digital jukebox. Were you out there in front, about in the middle, or a Johnny-come-lately?
Today’s coin-op business, as the metaphor goes, isn’t your father’s Oldsmobile. We have cashless vending, self-redemption, state-of-the-art accounting software, online game tournaments where you can play against people you’ll never meet, and the budding derivative of that called esports. For the adventurous game center folks, we even have attractions like VR, escape rooms and rope courses that transcend the meaning of “coin machines.” So, when something a bit more understandable comes along like axe throwing, the change-resistant crowd perks up a bit more than usual, but otherwise turns the page in the magazine to read something he already knows all about.
There are operators who like to be at the forefront of new developments, who were more willing than the rest to have tried new ways to do old tasks, like put out a jukebox that didn’t play records. But most, in my opinion, need to stand back and watch before committing time and money into such novel notions. There are still street location operators out there who’ve consistently avoided joining up with the 8-ball league movement or any of the other such competitive promotions. Why? Well, why do some people wait until the last minute to reserve a hotel room for a trade show, for example, and then tell their friends they didn’t go to the show this year because all the rooms were sold out?
The 2020 Amusement Expo will take place the second week of this month in New Orleans. Like any such exhibition of new products and services running in conjunction with lectures on how to drive today’s Oldsmobiles, the trade people on the show floor will definitely include those who get all exercised checking out the new goods while picking through the seminar subjects to catch up on some ideas to take home. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know why you or a number of your surrogates should get a room, get a badge and then get busy at this once-a-year event that targets the business in which you make your living. Or do you?
– Eddie Adlum