We’ve moved!

Phoenix Amusements  Please visit our new website and home to our blog: www.phoenixamusements.com.  We have a new look and functionality but still have all our historical articles of this blog there.  We’ll keep this site up a bit longer, but invite you to our new home!


MODEX 2014 in Atlanta


MODEX is coming to Atlanta this March.  Phoenix Amusements has been supplying entertainment for hospitality suites or traffic builders to clients for years at the MODEX show. But, what is the MODEX tradeshow?  According to MODEXShow.com, “MODEX 2014® is the industry’s newest expo for the manufacturing and supply chain industries. It’s where the best and brightest thinkers in the supply chain gather to discuss the trends of today and the challenges of tomorrow. At MODEX you will meet 800 of the leading providers and see their solutions in person, in action”.  This year they will also combine the Supply Chain & Transportation USA conference (SCT).  For those in Supply Chain Management, this must be heaven!  

It’s a pretty big show with an estimated 20,000 attendees and over 800 exhibitors on 180,000 square foot show floor.  This year its being held at Atlanta’s Georgia World Congress Center on March 17th through 20th.

According to the show managers, MHI, “Thirty-Six Percent of MODEX attendees plan on spending $1 million or more on Manufacturing and Supply Chain solutions in the next 18 months.”  In doing some research on the show, I came across this video of one of the 800 providers exhibiting at the show.  I’m truly amazed at the wonders of technology and production capabilities in today’s industries.  The video demonstrates how this company has integrated 3D printing in the production of steel products.  Did I mention how much I am fascinated with anything involving the printing process?  Watch and enjoy!

Beyond the Booth-Tradeshow Ideas

Usually businesses trying to increase their brand awareness or obtaining qualified leads will exhibit at trade shows by purchasing a booth space on the expo floor.

If you find that you just:

  • don’t have the right personnel to man the booth,
  • don’t want to spend the money or,
  • just don’t have the time to plan a thorough marketing plan for an effective exhibit,

why not think outside the box or the booth!

Here are top five alternatives to participate at conferences outside of the expo floor:

1. Sponsor an event.

Whether its a cocktail reception, customer appreciation game night, or the dinner; get your name and sales force out there! Plan a small cocktail reception in a hotel suite and give a small, brief presentation. Whatever it may be, make it fun!

2. Book space across the street or in the parking lot.

ouyaparkRecently at the E3 Show this year, Ouya decided to rent out part of the parking lot across the street from the Los Angeles Convention Center and put up banners to attract passer-byers.  Not sure it created more sales, but it did create free publicity.

3. Engage Social Media with a targeted goal
New Balance recently launched a relay-race mobile app promotion in New York promoting their flagship store.  Integrating running and batons in the app resulted in 75 million media impressions along with engaging over 1000 app downloads along with exceeding their goal of selling $250,000 in first month (40% increase of their retail sales goal).  This was not used at a tradeshow, but the premise still applies.

4. Snag a speaking role at the tradeshow.

Have someone from your company speak at the show.  This shows the attendees that you and your company have been vetted by the show committee or public relations firm in charge of the tradeshow and of course that you are a thought leader in your industry.   And don’t forget to have your sales or development team available in full force to assist in any questions.

5. Become a greeter at the show

log'd bagsEngage the attendees with energetic greeters dressed with your logo’d shirts that hand out logo’d bags to attendees which include a USB loaded with your company info and contact person. Include a qr code on the greeter’s shirt to drive attendees to a custom company page!

Even though you haven’t spent money on a booth and its related costs, you still have invested time and money in the above.  You typically will not close the deal at the show, but in the followup.  A must is to schedule a follow up meeting or call as soon as possible while the tradeshow buzz is still fresh in the attendees’ mind.

If you need help with your appreciation night or VIP suite, we’re here to help!  Good luck and let us know if our suggestions helped you!

Company Named Phoenix, but in Atlanta

English: Seal of Atlanta.

Phoenix-AvatarOur company name is Phoenix Amusements, but we’re based in Atlanta, Georgia.  I can’t tell you how many times a day we are asked, “Why are you named Phoenix, but not here in Phoenix, Arizona?”  Our founder named our company after the Greek mythical bird, the Phoenix. The story is told that the Phoenix rises through the burning ashes and is reborn.  This Greek story is similar to the burning of Atlanta when General Sherman’s Union Army burnt Atlanta to the grown during the Civil War and then rose to become one of the leading cities of the nation.  This is why our founder named our company, Phoenix Amusements.

As a result of the numerous queries, my curiosity was peaked when I decided to write on this topic.  I did a little more research about companies named Phoenix and here is what I found:

Currently, there  are 257 of companies registered with the Georgia Secretary of State office with “Phoenix” in their company name.

  1. Besides Phoenix, the capital of Arizona, there are:
  2. Phoenix, Colorado (Gilpin County) – in the Rockies west of Denver
  3. Phoenix, Georgia (Putnam County) – southeast of Atlanta
  4. Phoenix, Illinois (Cook County) – in the greater Chicago metro region
  5. Phoenix, Louisiana (Plaquemines Parish) – in the Mississippi Delta, south of New Orleans
  6. Phoenix, Maryland (Baltimore County) – north of Baltimore
  7. Phoenix, Michigan, (Keweenaw County) – in the Upper Peninsula
  8. Phoenix, Mississippi ( Yazoo County) – northwest of Jackson
  9. Phoenix, New Jersey (Middlesex County, NJ) – northeast of Brunswick
  10. Phoenix, New York (Oswego County) – northwest of Syracuse
  11. Phoenix, North Carolina (Brunswick County – northwest of Wilmington
  12. Phoenix, Oregon, (Jackson County) – just outside Medford
  13. Phoenix, South Carolina (Greenwood County) – North of Augusta, GA
  14. Phoenix, Texas (Bexar County) – just outside of San Antonio, TX

There are five states (and Arizona is not one of them!) that have a city named Phenix:

  1. Arkansas
  2. Indiana
  3. Missouri
  4. Rhode Island
  5. Virginia

Other countries with the name of Phoenix:

Just a little trivia for you to enjoy!

Donald Hankinson Sr., 76: Leader in electronic games industry

Don Hankinson Sr PhotoBy J.E. Geshwiler

For the AJC

Don Hankinson Sr. was in the business of fun and took great enjoyment in it. Friends say he played the arcade games that he distributed with the enthusiasm of a youngster.

In 1959 he founded Phoenix Amusements Inc., a one-man Atlanta operation that grew to have customers nationwide. Nowadays his company provides entertainment equipment — both classic and state-of-the-art electronic games, simulators, pinball machines, etc. — for corporate clients such as Google, Shell Oil and Hewlett Packard to use in their marketing tours and trade shows. It also provides props for motion pictures such as the recent comedy, “Neighborhood Watch.”

“Don was a leader in his industry and brought a lot of respectability to it as president of the Georgia Amusement and Music Operators and a director of the Amusement and Music Operators of America,” said Les Schneider, an Atlanta attorney who represented the Georgia trade group.

Schneider said Hankinson was a savvy businessman with a high sense of ethics and empathy for others.

Born in St. Louis, Hankinson came to Atlanta with his family at age 14. His father bought grocery stores for the A&P chain, but leased juke boxes on the side. Eventually Hankinson took his father’s sideline and ran with it, branching out first to pinball machines, then electromagnetic games, and then to computerized games such as Pac-Man and Donkey Kong. In the 1980s, he went full-tilt into leasing and servicing arcade games.

Hankinson’s company provided arcade games for major events in Atlanta such as the 1996 Olympics, the NCAA Final Four and the BellSouth Classic, as well as for student events at the University of Georgia, Emory University and Georgia State.

David Capilouto of Marietta, a regional vice president of Betson Industries, said Hankinson was one of his first customers in 1976. “Don was a one-man show at the time, a great salesman who maintained and serviced his equipment. He made certain he was on the cutting edge of innovation.”

A son, Don Hankinson Jr. of Sharpsburg, said his father was always devising technical improvements.

“When young customers found they could avoid paying for coin-operated games by drilling holes in a quarter, tying a string to it and pulling the coin back after inserting it, he developed a device that would cut the string and foil the chiselers. Pop also thought of ways to recycle arcade machines by turning them into totally different games, saving money in the process,” his son said.

His wife of 47 years, Harriette Hankinson, said he was an ardent tennis player most of his life. In 1956 he won a 3A Georgia high school singles championship and later played one year each on the University of Georgia and Georgia State University tennis teams. In 1965 he was president of the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association.

“Through most of his adult life, Bitsy Grant Tennis Center was his home away from home,” his wife said.

Donald Hankinson Sr., 76: Leader in electronic games industry.

Thinking of Opening a Game Room Business

Family Fun Center (FEC)

Family Fun Centers
Game Room

We get this call about once a week or more; “I want to open a game room” or “do you do game rooms?”  In answer to the first question, we always ask another question, “where will your game room be and what’s your demographics?”  The standard reply is “I’m in whatever city, and there’s nothing for the kids to do.”  Or “I have this big building that I need to fill.”   At that point, we realize that the eager new business owner has not done a true assessment of the proposed business nor a thorough due diligence.  Most gamerooms or a family fun center (FEC) will not survive without a hefty amount of startup cash.  In the past, operators would supply the games but would share in a percentage of funds received in the games.  An operator in the game industry purchases the arcade games, maintains or fixes them and collects the money or data.  Unfortunately, most operators do not wish to invest such a large amount of money for an arcade room startup, especially if the business does not have a detailed business plan with projected revenue and an  advertising/marketing plan.  We traditionally use Dave N Buster’s game room as an example.  The smaller upright arcade games like Ms PacMan or Donkey Kong cost about $4,000-$5000. While the larger sports shooting games like Super Shot basketball will run $7,000-$8,000 each (not including sales tax nor delivery).  And the new flat screen racing games cost about $10,000-$12,000 each.  now add the new card readers to each game.  This system allows you to program each game and retrieves customer playing info such as time of play, duration and spend rate.  That system would cost about $25,000 to $30,000 and does not include training or custom cards. Some of the card reader systems can tie into your POS system too.

Dave N' Buster's Posse represent

Dave N’ Buster’s Posse represent (Photo credit: seanmonkey)

A Dave N Buster’s facility typically has about 200 games in their game rooms and they boast about their Million Dollar Midway that includes traditional arcade, redemption, and simulators along with party rooms and a full scale restaurant and bar.  Even if you use a low average of $4,000 per game and have 200 games, the cost would be $800,000 for the games only.  How many business owners do you know would be willing to invest $800k in assets for someone else’s business without seeing a detailed business plan.  Keep in mind, that Dave N Buster’s definitely gets a price break since they purchase for over 50 locations.  Most of our prospects are only opening one location at a time.  If you’re looking for new games, distributors have a full line from all manufactures.  Betson and Brady Distributing are two of the most reputable companies serving the south and east areas.

Let’s say that you’re willing to have used games in your new arcade game room, but you’ll purchase them on your own.  There’s hundreds of used arcade games on Ebay today not to mention the industry auctions.  Quite a few of the listing look like new games.  One of the questions you may ask yourself is “Why are there so many operators selling so much equipment? Even selling their more newer pieces?  One of the main reasons would be that they are not making money. The majority of the public owns smartphones or tablets that have games they can play on them already.  The latest number for 2013 smartphone users in the U.S is 181.4 million.  So why pay to play a game?  Another reason could be that their local government has changed their regulations.  Arcade games are part of the gaming industry and is a regulated and taxed  industry.  Each state has different regulations and license requirements.  An operator must be licensed in your state to be able to work with you for a game room business.

Donkey Kong arcade at the QuakeCon 2005.

Donkey Kong arcade at the QuakeCon 2005. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Even after all the above, you still want to proceed.  You’ve purchased your games, have a location and necessary licenses and are open for business.  But a couple of your games are not working now.  They worked when you bought them but one has a flickering screen, one has a black screen, another has no sound and then someone stuffed pennies into the coin slot.  Most used games are sold “as is” with no warranties so you’ll have to find some to fix them or you may have done your homework and have hired a skilled technician as part of your staff.  Some fixes are quite easy to a skilled technician, but some could be costly and time intensive to repair. Some of the older games like Galaga or Donkey Kong are over 20 years old and parts could be hard to come by.  Replacing an old tube monitor can run about $300 or if you swap out for a flat screen you’ll need a signal converter, new framing plus the flat screen.  All of this could run about $500-$700.  Keep in mind, these costs are for a 18″ monitor, the cost for the bigger screens are substantially more.  Parts and repairs should definitely be a line item in your detailed expenses.


Combo Snack and Cold Drink Vending

As with Dave N Buster’s, a game room will not survive on games alone.  Food, liquor and other entertainment is a must in your business mix.  You’ll notice that FEC’s include food plus laser tag, rock climbing or inflatables or a combination of all.  Even if you’re not opening a facility on the scope of a Dave N Buster’s, include an additional revenue stream.  Don’t want to have a commercial kitchen and all the regulations involved, think about vending machines.  The technological breakthroughs in the newest vending machines are amazing and take up a small footprint in your venue.

There’s so many factors to consider but furthermost, we suggest that you do a tremendous amount of prep work and due diligence to ensure that your new business will be a success.  We’ve created a checklist for those who’d like to proceed into the game room industry to help you in your venture.  Click here to download!  And if you’re not looking to open a game room business, but need a temporary game room setup for your next conference, we definitely can help you. Give us a call 866-767-4420 or fill out the below form.

Who is the Best Game Rentals Event Company in Atlanta? (Reviews/Ratings)

English: Seal of Atlanta.

English: Seal of Atlanta. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Just about every event planning coordinator gets stumped with finding the right game rental company in the city of their event or meeting that they are planning.  Each major metropolitan city touts a who’s who in the game rental industry.  But if this is your first time searching for such a vendor, it can be daunting.  Don’t fret.  Atlanta is a hotbed of rental companies that rent cool games.

Despite the fact that we at Phoenix Amusements have been located in Atlanta since 1959 and have done thousands of  events in the Atlanta metropolitan area, our customers often times want to know who some of the other game rental companies are in the area.  And with our continued focus on transparency and an extremely high standard of ethics at Phoenix Amusements, we are posting a few game rental companies to consider if you’re looking to rent cool games for that special event .

  1. Amusement Masters: Located in Tucker, GA providing a range of game rentals along with inflatables since 1999.
  2. Burgess Amusements: Offers full line of carnival game rides such as Ferris Wheels and Carousel along with game rentals.
  3. Atlanta Special Events: Focuses on talent entertainment along with game rentals and audio visual products since 2002.
  4. American Family Day: Specializes in company picnics with catering since 1985.

Here are a few companies you may consider as you go about planning your special event and researching event rental companies for Atlanta events.  Although I can’t say these companies are “the best” of Atlanta per se, they do have an established history in the area.

Of course, if you have upcoming company events, an exhibition or just need cool games to play, we at Phoenix Amusements are always ready to discuss or help you with fun party ideas.

Get an immediate quote today for your next meeting or company event from Phoenix Amusements.

Classic Arcade Game Rental Costs

Classic arcade video games are considered to be those created in the first years of the birth of coin-operated video games and is considered the “golden-age” of video arcade games.  A few famous titles include:

  • Ms. Pacman-Manufactured by Midway Manufacturing Co. in 1981Ms-Pacman
    Interesting tidbit: Original Ms. Pacman cabinets have the artwork painted on the sides. However, on the last production run of the game, adhesive sticker art was used instead of paint.
  • Galaga-Manufactured by Namco in 1981
    Interesting tidbit: Namco also produced very small versions of these games, about the size of a 17-inch monitor, for buses and airplanes.
  • Asteroids-Manufactured by Atari in 1979
    – Interesting tidbit: After its release in the US, many arcade operators had to make larger coin boxes for the games so they could hold all of the quarters that these machines collected.
  • donkeykongDonkey Kong-Manufactured by Nintendo in 1981.
    – Interesting tidbit: Mario Bros and Super Mario are spin offs from Donkey Kong.

A true classic arcade, The Galaxy Game, the earliest known coin-operated arcade video game, made its debut on the campus of Stanford University in 1971.  While Atari’s Pong was quick to follow in the mid 70’s.  Our family was the first in our neighborhood to own the home console version of Pong.

With the renewed interest in classic arcades, knock offs have been built as multicade games which include several or even hundreds of games all in one video game cabinet.  Unfortunately, these type of units are not legal. Anyone selling or renting these types of units are typically doing so illegally. The unit is created, by using either old, bootlegged or counterfeit software, and/or hardware boards, usually made in China.  Most of these games are cheaply constructed, have questionable quality control and warranties, and the fact that the person or firm who are selling or renting them knows they are doing so illegally should tell you something about the honesty and reputation of that company or individual. Namco continues to make their classic games and definitely do not allow their games to be paired with any other manufacturer’s game.  Do you think that Apple would allow you to use the iPhone apps on a Samsung phone?  Its pretty much the same thing.

Depending on your location and your event dynamics, a traditional original classic arcade game rental will range from $350-$500 per game and may not include a delivery or pickup fee.  Keep in mind, this range will vary depending on your location   If  your event is in a location that does not have any or just a couple of game rental companies, that rental company can charge you whatever price they deem appropriate.   It is a very specialized niche industry.  Most of the famous classic arcade video games were built in the 1980’s meaning they are at least 30 years old today and would be considered an antique or  treasured collectible.  The fact that a company has the video games much less that they are in working condition is amazing!  Through the years, the number of technicians that can effectively work on the classic arcades have dwindled.  So if you find a company that does rent and can repair their games, you have found a gem of a supplier.

Contact us if you need more information for renting these games for your event!

Fishing Simulators and River Monsters

I recently stumbled upon a new tv series called “River Monsters“.  The episode I first watched was when the angler was fishing in Florida for bull sharks in inland rivers.  He caught a few small sharks but then caught a huge grouper.  Grouper is a fish that looks pretty prehistoric and not particularly appealing.  Since that episode, we have been watching regularly!

Epinephelus malabaricus

Epinephelus malabaricus (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you’re not familiar with grouper, its typically a saltwater fish and can get rather large. The one caught in this episode was estimated at 300 pounds!  I don’t remember anyone back home catching one that big, but you never know.   The only reason grouper would be in those waters was if the water was brackish   I grew up in Louisiana and we sometimes ate fried grouper, which I remember to be a very tasty fish.  If you’re looking for a good recipe, try Paula’s Deans Video for Fried Grouper Fingers.  Since I now live in the Atlanta area, getting good fresh fish is a little more challenging.  I now have a quest to find the best fish market south of Hartsfield Airport!

Marine FishingBut if you want to practice your fishing skills, we have two arcade games for you!  If you want to challenge your skills with freshwater fishing, our Sega Bass Fishing Simulator is for you.  Not a freshwater angler?  Try out saltwater version with the Sega Marine Fishing Simulator.   Either version has been rented for corporate parties and for Vendor expos.  Another idea would be to hold your own fishing rodeo in your trade show booth to increase traffic to your booth.  Both simulators are available for rental for your next event.  Let us know if we can help you out! Or if you recommend a good fish market on the southside of Atlanta!