The Pinball Hall of Fame is a registered 501c3 non-profit. It relies on visitors stopping by to play these games, restored pinball machine sales and 'This Old Pinball' repair dvd videos (available for sale at the museum). The PHoF has also helped out with fundraising for the local Salvation Army, accepting donations to benefit them. There is a candy vending stand, where the entire 25 cents of each quarter goes directly to the Salvation Army. And after the PHoF covers its monthly expenses for rent, electricity, insurance, endowment savings, the remainder of the money goes to the Salvation Army.
Tim says, 'I like the Salvation Army a lot because they're kinda like us. They're downtown on the cheap side and they put all their emphasis on the areas that need emphasis and not a lot on hierarchy and organization. When the crap hit the fan with Katrina, the government failed completely, the Red Cross failed mostly, but everybody that was there said the Salvation Army was exemplary in every way. This is why we help the Salvation Army. They are unlike any other charity or government, very little overhead and helping lots of people that need it. Today's society is often too self-centered to bother doing community service. So I'm just giving them a vehicle where they think they're being self-indulging by playing pinball, but they are really helping charity.'
The best thing about the Pinball Hall of Fame is their complete lack of a 'profit' mindset. It's about the games and charity and not about making money. Tim explains, 'we just don't care that this or that game isn't making any money. The minute we start becoming professional, it's all gonna be about the dollars and it's not gonna be about the games. I mean like the kind of things we do to maintain these games - we change the rubber rings more often than we have to. We replace light bulbs the minute they burn out. That doesn't make any economic sense. If we were professional, we'd let things slide a little. There's no real economic reason for this to exist, or capitalism would've already built it.'
That 'cheap side' approach gives the Pinball Hall of Fame its disarming, thrift-store feeling. The royal-blue carpet? It's scrap from a Convention Center weekend show. The change machines? Grabed from the Golden Nugget's trash dock before the garbage men came. But it's not about cutting corners - it's about maintaining an almost obsessive focus on the pinball games themselves. Forget about public relations, marketing, uniforms, or even a sign outside. 'If the games play, the people will come, quarters at the ready. There's stuff here that hasn't been seen since my mom was a kid. And it's all up here and it's playable.'
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