Retail Prices - What to make of them?
Updated: Jun 18, 2020
I often get asked, "Why are the prices higher from so and so amusement company or ebay? Why are you offering me less money?" Well, first things first, let's go back to some basic economics. Market price doesn't mean value. Just because someone is asking $8000.00 for a Star Trek Next Generation Pinball Machine doesn't mean it's worth $8000.00. I can ask for a 40% premium on the home or car but that doesn't mean it will sell. A seller has to remember many retailers spend a considerable amount of time, resources and expense getting a machine ready for sale.
Most machines bought from a private home have not been serviced or cleaned in years. A retailer, before reselling, has to clean and service the game. The retailer doesn't want a call in 2 weeks from the buyer complaining the machine broke therefore the retailer spends time and resources making the machine reliable. A friend of mine in the retail business once told me when he takes overhead, employees, and parts into consideration, it adds up to about $2000 per machine. Plus, the retailer want/needs to make a profit. So, when you see an amusement company charging $8,000 for a machine, remember, he has costs in there and needs to make a profit. His costs and profit do not increase the value of the machine. Remember, the retailer bought it at a lower price otherwise he would lose money. Retailers also offer warranties and support which inst free.
Our collectors generally offer collector value on the machines. This is the cost the machine would go for on the collector market. This assumes a clean machine that is playable. Now, the reality is (like I said above) many machines found in private homes have had little in any maintenance. The playfields get dirty from flipper dust as well as plastics, ramps etc. The games need a good cleaning. On the collector market, a dirty game in need of maintenance would be worth a little less. To properly clean a machine takes about 10-20 hours of work depending on the machine. If you were to pay someone to do this work, it would be around $1000-$1500 bucks. Most collectors don't ask for that much discount but a couple hundred dollars is normal. For example, if you have a game that has not been serviced in years and is very dirty, a buyer may ask for a discount of $200-$300, which, would be fair.
If the buyer asked for anything more, that would be too much.
Again, everything with pinball is condition. Nicer the game, the better the price. If someone has to tear it all apart to find the hidden beauty of a machine, be prepared to discount the game a bit if you want the sale. Finally, just because a retailer lists a game for a price, doesn't mean that its the value of the machine.