Kickstarter to open a new location in Richmond VA

Richmond Pinball Collective is planning to open a new location in Richmond VA. Our fair city is wonderful place but it is devoid good places to play pinball. There are very few tournaments and they are mainly in private homes. We do have a vibrant pinball scene but it is limited to house leagues and thus it is limited in scope. So we want expand the possibilities in our town. Help us to bring this fruition! Donate! Provide encouragement!

We have recieved some feedback about our Kickstarter. So I thought we would address them here:

  1. “Couldn’t come up with 7k between 5 people?” - Actually the real cost of opening a location is much much higher. Between move in costs, one year lease, pinball arcade + machines, and utilities the real costs are closer to 50-70k. We will be giving up our personal collections to make this a reality. The 7k is really to gauge community support and get a read on the market for our product in Richmond. We could also use a little capital to reduce our risk level.

  2. “Couldn’t you come up with a location before the Kickstarter” - actually we wanted to see how successful the Kickstarter was before committing to a location. The lease will be our #1 on-going expense and our # 1 liability. If the Kickstarter fails we will still open a location. It might just be a 500 sq/ft warehouse. We have bigger ambitions but we need to know that we are well met.

  3. "You don’t seem to have a business plan"
    In reality we have been thinking and meeting about this for over a year. It is true that some of these details are missing from the Kickstarter and that was a mistake. So the plan is to fund the location through a combination of memberships, league nights, tournaments and birthday parties.
    Our membership structure would have multiple tiers.(subject to change)

Key Holders-let the collective borrow 1 pinball machine. These members would have 24 hour access.
(We would love to have 10-20 folks on this category)

Sustainers-these folks would have unlimited access during open times and when key holders are present. Key holders would be asked to announce it a private group in Facebook or some other combination mechanism since not everyone does FB.

Drop In-no commitment but you can only come when it is open 3 times a week including league night.

We have also toyed with setting up our location as an ABC “private club” which will allow us to serve alcohol to members. In that case there would be a base annual membership that would require a token amount which would essentially be a drop in membership and the other memberships would continue and be the same.

There you have it. That’s our plan…


This got me wondering. The Richmond pinball map says 4 locations with 6 games. None in pizza parlors or bars. Metro Richmond population is around 1.2 million people. Yelp lists 350+ pizza parlors in the area. So why on earth are there so few games on location? Excessive taxes? Illegal in restaurants and bars? I’m tempted to throw all my games in a u-haul and head there first thing in the morning. Should be easy pickings for you guys.


I lived in Carytown for a year, I think Richmond would be a great city to have a pinball scene.

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Love to hear it! We think so too!

Not illegal and no excessive taxing. There are just only a couple of operators and pinball isn’t a money maker. Like Molly has mentioned before, you’ve got to have heart to operate pins. This is why we are opening a collaborative space with a pinball focus and a membership structure so we can both keep game wear to a minimum and offer a selection worth becoming a member for.


I’ll just say that I can’t support a location like this. I’m not even comfortable calling it a location. A location has games on coin drop. For the first 70 years of this hobby the games were for everyone. Private clubs like this will cater mostly to people with money.

This forum is loaded with operators and former operators, including me. If anyone in the Richmond area wants to try to get some games out on their own, this would be a great place to seek advice. I’d be all over it if I lived in that area.

Why the hate? I’ve seen this type of venue work very well in Denmark. There are many ways to make pinball work and the “best” solution in one area may be different than the “best” solution in another area.

The Pacific Pinball Museum works on a very similar model. You can buy memberships that’ll let you show up any time and play as much as you want or you can pay each time you show up. Can you not support the PPM either?


True it is a pinball club that will have available public times. If Richmond had good location pinball we wouldn’t be doing this. We all have jobs and families but we want more pinball in Richmond. If our endeavor causes a lot of location pinball to pop up and put us out of business, I would call that a success…


No hate. Just can’t support something like this. When this thread was first started, I ignored it. Then it was bumped again yesterday. That’s when I hit the reply button. Lam says pinball doesn’t make money for operators, yet it’s ok for them to ask for money here for their new mostly private location? That doesn’t make sense to me. There are plenty of operators here that won’t be declaring bankruptcy in the near future.

Love the folks that run PPM but haven’t paid admission in years. That’s a different story for a different thread. Not similar IMO.

I still don’t understand your objection. What is so important about games being on coin play? I think this sounds amazing, I would be over the moon to have a space like this in the Bay Area!


Same for me. We just have to wait for rents to come crashing down and then we’ll make it happen. :slight_smile:


You know that tournament we played in over the weekend? At least one person that competed was recently homeless and may be now. As dedicated of a hobbyist as you will find. Doesn’t own a single game. Guys like him can’t afford clubs like this.

It was good to see you and I’m glad you chimed in here, even if we don’t agree.

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“Keeping game wear to a minimum” sounds like you don’t actually want the games to be played.

Can you elaborate?

Not to fuel the fire or beat a dead horse, but I don’t think any individual’s financial problems obligate a operator to put machines out on location. Pinball is a hobby, and none of us are entitled to cheap or free pinball.

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Hi! You mention a coin drop? I don’t know about you, but a coin drop is $$ unless you’re constantly getting replays. I spend much more on a coin drop than what I would spend with a flat entry fee of 7 -10 bucks. We want to save you money and not have think about putting another dollar in every time you have a bad game. Memberships will be for the die hards. But there will be plenty of public times where you can play pinball for hours for less than 10 bucks.


We did get a Bad Girls for $150 . She’s cheap. She’s fun. I am not proving a point am I? :slight_smile:

Yes, I can! What I meant is that because we are pinball only, not a bar (byob!), not a restaurant (byof!), etc, it is more likely that only people who really want to play pinball will show up, instead of that asshole drunk guy in the corner who saw something shiny and challenged his bros. Less wear on the machines. We wanna keep some nice players in there and no jalopies!

I think like most good human beings, if someone came to us and said "Look, I don’t have money for the $7-10 entry fee but I’d really like to play some pinball, I’d probably just invite her in and give her a beer. Because I’m not an asshole.

To clarify, I’m referring to machines as players and jalopies not people.


Not to fuel the fire or beat a dead horse, but I don’t think any individual’s financial problems obligate a operator to put machines out on location.

I don’t either. I just offered help in an area that is desperately low on pins.

Pinball is a hobby, and none of us are entitled to cheap or free pinball.

Pinball started as cheap entertainment.

In 1931 David Gottlieb’s Baffle Ball became the first hit of the coin-operated era. Selling for $17.50, the game dispensed five to seven balls for a penny. The game resonated with people wanting cheap entertainment in the Great Depression-era economy.

It stayed that way for 70 years. As kids in the 70’s, we used to steal returnable coke bottles for change to play pinball. I just don’t want to see pinball going the way of yachting or polo. It’s a game for everyone. Or at least it used to be.