Adult Video Arcades, Theaters Still a Viable Investment for Retailers

Adult Video Arcades, Theaters Still a Viable Investment for Retailers
Megan Swartz

My topic for this month’s article, although a huge money-maker, is one of the least-discussed topics in this industry.

Theaters and arcades can be huge profit centers for your business with very little maintenance cost and expense in general. The initial expense can be pricey but the money can be made back very quickly.

Treat these guests as well as you do all others and be mindful of their amenities and you’ll be on your way to an extra $5,000-plus profit per week.

At Deja Vu’s Adult Emporium, we sell eight-hour theater tickets for $10. The arcade here is pay-to-play at $1 for 3 minutes with a $5 minimum to activate the movies. At Deja Vu’s Love Boutique, we sell eight-hour theater tickets for $12, which includes unlimited free play in the arcade. We further monopolize on this system by giving guests who buy a ticket at one location a discount at the other. Anyone reading this that has both theaters and arcades probably thinks this is completely crazy, but this method has worked very, very well for us.

When we initially raised the ticket price by $2, some of our regulars were a little upset. In the end, however, the guests are much happier now that they can cruise around without continuously coming out of pocket. We also have a boutique in St. Louis, Boutique Erotica, that charges $5 for a four-hour admission wristband which gets you access to the back hall where the theaters and arcades are located. From there, the arcade follows the same business model as the Adult Emporium (pay to play). The theater, however, has a bill acceptor on each door, which remains locked unless paid. In order to enter or re-enter the theaters, you must put a dollar in each time. If you are in an area with little to no competition, this could easily increase your revenue by 50 percent or more with little-to-no cost!

Here are some key things to remember about your theaters and arcades:

• The support of your staff is extremely important. Here in Las Vegas, there’s so much competition out there that the attitude of our staff could easily destroy this avenue of revenue for us. One thing we’ve found to be most important is ensuring all staff treat theater guests with the same enthusiasm and respect they give any other shoppers. Don’t treat these guests as just a $12 sale, treat them as a $12 sale times 365 days per year!

• When we’ve surveyed our theater guests in the past, one common complaint we’ve seen (an since rectified) is not rotating the movies frequently enough. So make sure you have variety and rotation on at (minimum) each shift change. You can also give your guests the option of picking a movie that they’d like to see and if it doesn’t fit your normal genres, you can always up-charge the guest for the special service.

• Especially with arcades, make sure everything (including individual booths and hallways) are clean and all equipment is in good repair. Sometimes when we check other locations, we notice that many of the arcades aren’t even functioning or the bill acceptors don’t work! You can make your arcade walls look “glorious” by adding a few “ventilation holes” behind the tissue boxes!

• In the theaters, seating is paramount! Often times, competitors don’t even realize that guests truly care about comfortable seating. If you were going to sit somewhere for two hours or more, wouldn’t you want comfortable seating? You can find very comfortable theater-style seating that matches, is vinyl, and resistant to stains and spills, for very cheap if you buy in bulk. Also remember, you don’t want there to be an armrest between every single seat.

• Don’t allow your staff to harass the theater guests. Staff interaction in the theaters should be limited to making sure the movies are playing correctly, the rooms are clean, the tissues are stocked, and the sound is functional and not too loud. Other than that, guests should see signage that instructs them to see an associate if there are any issues. These guests enjoy privacy!

• What are you actually doing to drive business to your theaters and arcades? We’ve found success in posting on lifestyle websites like Squirt.org or similar online boards that the theater community reads. These sites get more activity than Yelp! If you haven’t looked your business up on these sites, you’re missing out and failing to connect to potential guests. Also consider promotions like punch cards for “Buy 10, Get 1 Free Admission,” two-for-one couples admissions (to increase female-to-male ratios) and “Feature Fridays,” where new releases or retro films are played for a special event.

• Our formal surveys have found that exterior signage drives 70 percent of new guest traffic to our stores — that’s more than online, word-of-mouth, print, or radio ever has! So it’s especially important to make sure that your building identifies you have theaters and arcades inside (especially using verbiage like “New,” “Digital,” “100+ Movies,” etc. It’s also great to have a separate entrance for those repeat guests. It gives them discretion and makes them feel like valued customers.

• Make sure you have impulse-buys at your theater/ arcade registers. Also if you have a special entrance for these guests, make sure the wall space near that entrance is lined with lifestyle-friendly products.

In conclusion, theaters and arcades are an often-overlooked profit center that in reality is all gravy money with virtually no ongoing expense! Just remember to treat these guests as well as you do all others and be mindful of their amenities and you’ll be on your way to an extra $5,000-plus profit per week!

With more than 10 years working with Deja Vu’s various branches, Megan Swartz — Deja Vu’s general manager and buyer — has made a name for herself as a dedicated and savvy, merchandising and operations-managing dynamo.


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