We stumbled across this awesome laundromat a few days earlier, just walking around Guru’s Brooklyn office during lunch. Right in the heart of the Polish borough is a place where doing the laundry has never been so flipping. At the moment we arrived, Peter Cooper the owner-operator was already busy setting the pinball machines on “free play” for us. I was amazed to find out how little I knew about the flipper business.
“I operated hundreds of machines all over the city and when I took over this laundromat I decided to move my finest games over here. I probably have 10 of the top games ever made in here.”
Okay, this guy had a flipper knowledge level of a grand master. So I investigated deeper. Apparently pinball aficionados agree on some best titles in terms of gameplay, game events and general flow of the action. Medieval Madness is a classic, for example. It has an exploding mechanical castle inside and a pre-famous Tina Fey voice over. Market price : $13,000.
“An operator would place these showpiece games in a high-rent area of a shopping mall to attract players. These would become a destination and when the machine was too busy, you could fall back on a ‘filler machine.’ These machines were expected to be fully paid within 6 months, all after that was pure profit.”
But where do you start looking for new machines? Ebay? The papers? Peter explained that pinball machines are like used cars. You have to be quick to spot them and negotiate. You have to visit basements and old bars. Even if something’s advertised as a gem, a machine always needs repairs to bring it up to Peter’s standards (apparently very high).
“Like cars, if you always buy a certain brand name, you can mix parts and replace them easily. It’s the same mechanics overall.”
Peter is really building his empire a quarter at a time. His obsession started back in his school years, when he was asked to refurnish the game room. He now has been operating and scaling his collection for 20 years. Feel free to drop by the laundromat for a game if you are visiting the Brooklyn area; his passion will probably leave a nice stain on you.
Find Sunshine Laundry at 860 Manhattan avenue in Greenpoint.
This article is part of our series on Brooklyn Makers.
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