Playmeter July 2015 : Page-32
COVER STORY rocks up to 30 years The Rhode Island Novelty redemption team, (l-r): Neil Sormanti, Sales; Dan Highcove, Sales; Rhina Gomes, Sales Support; Dave Bejbl, Sales; Matt Lemoine, Sales; and Nicole Nary, Sales Account Manager. F or nearly three decades, Rhode Island Novelty has been supplying the amusement industry with quality prize merchandise, novelty items, and personalized service. So vast is the selection that the “R” in redemption should stand for Rhode Island Novelty. Whether you want licensed or non-licensed items, party supplies, inflata-bles, gifts, electronics, flags, hats, holi-day items, decorations, balls, rubber 32 duckies, or plush Skeledon dinosaurs, Rhode Island Novelty has it all. Play Meter spoke with Rhode Island Novelty’s Matt Lemoine for insight into the company’s history, philosophy, and products, as well as the reasons why redemption is so popular today. Rhode Island Novelty will cele-brate its 30th anniversary next year. How large is the staff today compared to the beginning of the company? JULY 2015 PLAY METER
Rhode Island Novelty rocks up to 30 years
For nearly three decades, Rhode Island Novelty has been supplying the amusement industry with quality prize merchandise, novelty items, and personalized service. So vast is the selection that the “R” in redemption should stand for Rhode Island Novelty.<br /> <br /> Whether you want licensed or nonlicensed items, party supplies, inflatables, gifts, electronics, flags, hats, holiday items, decorations, balls, rubber duckies, or plush Skeledon dinosaurs, Rhode Island Novelty has it all.<br /> <br /> Play Meter spoke with Rhode Island Novelty’s Matt Lemoine for insight into the company’s history, philosophy, and products, as well as the reasons why redemption is so popular today.<br /> <br /> Rhode Island Novelty will celebrate its 30th anniversary next year. How large is the staff today compared to the beginning of the company?<br /> Rhode Island Novelty started with just four employees in 1986. From there the company exploded onto the scene and quickly became a one stop shop with an enormous selection of novelty items.<br /> <br /> Currently, our state-of-the-art warehouse and distribution center in Fall River, Mass., employs over 200 people. The sales team has also developed into segmented groups of market specialists, each with a focus on their dedicated industry. This has allowed Rhode Island Novelty to become not only a leader in redemption, but in a multitude of other business ventures.<br /> <br /> Do you follow a certain business philosophy that has contributed to your success?<br /> Our philosophy has always been the same: Provide outstanding customer service and offer a huge selection of merchandise at the right price.<br /> <br /> Looking over your Web site, it’s easy to see how the company is a one stop shop for all kinds of prize merchandise.<br /> We have recently upgraded our Web site with the hopes of making it easier for our customers to navigate through the thousands of product offerings we have and find the items they are looking for.<br /> <br /> What are some of the most popular prize categories and items?<br /> At present, our most popular product categories are: balls, plush, two-inch rubber animals, small electronics, and remote-controlled items.<br /> <br /> What are some of the most popular licensed items and some of the popular non-licensed items?<br /> The Ninja Turtles have been our most popular license for the last year. We have a variety of plush items as well as some inflatables. The smaller plush items have been especially popular in cranes, while the larger plush and inflatables have been selling well on the back walls of redemption centers.<br /> <br /> What are some of the popular non-licensed items?<br /> Two of our most popular non-licensed items have been rainbow balls and two-inch rubber animals. Customers will see our selection of rainbow balls continue to expand using this bright neon pattern. This will include incorporating printed designs, more sizes, and different shapes and quality of the balls such as new knobby balls, playground balls, and footballs. <br /> <br /> Two-inch rubber animals have also exploded as a crane item due to multiple crane manufacturers releasing themed offerings specific to these types of items, such as ducks and frogs. Due to the success our customers are realizing using these low price point items as a “winner every time” prize, we anticipate this category to continue to grow.<br /> <br /> Are there categories of merchandise that are in demand right now?<br /> Categories in high demand would be similar to our most popular prize categories: balls, plush, and electronics are all consistently on the list of our top 100 items.<br /> <br /> Is there a design team that creates new toys and merchandise?<br /> Yes, we have a full design and graphics team in-house. Their responsibilities include everything from new product and package design to product photo shoots, and catalog layout.<br /> <br /> We also have a team of buyers who make frequent trips to Asia throughout the year in order to source the best new and hot items.<br /> <br /> More operators have embraced redemption in recent years. What advice do you give to someone new to this part of the amusement industry? Is there a formula for redemption prize centers?<br /> I believe the reason redemption is being embraced more and more is that it makes money in a variety of types of locations.<br /> <br /> Entry into the world of redemption is being facilitated by the growing number of route operators offering a variety of different revenue share programs with locations. This reduces the financial burden and risk for the owner associated with filling a game room with all of the latest games and technology.<br /> <br /> While having redemption in a bowling center or restaurant certainly is not a new concept, the level of importance placed on this aspect of the venue definitely has.<br /> <br /> In the past I think redemption was just something there for kids to do, but the focus was on food costs, entry fees, and leagues. There has been a shift in that way of thinking that puts the redemption arcade at the forefront of the attractions.<br /> <br /> Operators are realizing that the money they invest into the redemption center, be it a hot new game or a sophisticated swipe card system, is dramatically affecting the bottom line of their entire business.<br /> <br /> It is making the games more desirable to play; customers are staying at the location longer; they are spending more on food and beverage; and ultimately it is the driving factor that is boosting their overall revenue.<br /> <br /> We do have formulae that we use when consulting with a new center or a center that has been in the business for years but is looking for a makeover. Some relate the total number of games in a center to the percentage that we feel should be ticket games.<br /> <br /> Another would be the average payout of the ticket games when compared to the ticket mark-ups on prizes. More important than any particular formula we share with a client is emphasizing the need to give their customers a great value and leave them remembering a positive experience that will ensure they return.<br /> <br /> Do you offer any special customer services and follow-ups?<br /> In regard to services (as mentioned above), if a customer is new to the industry and is looking for guidance, or a location has been opened for 25 years and wants a fresh set of eyes to help makeover their redemption center, they can call our redemption specialists for a personalized consultation.<br /> <br /> From there we evaluate their individual needs. We have the ability to do as much or as little as the customer would like. In some cases we may just provide product suggestions. In other instances we have flown to all parts of the country, physically setting up the product that we chose for the customer’s grand opening.<br /> <br /> What we believe differentiates Rhode Island Novelty from our competition is the variety of items we have at our disposal to choose from. You can walk into two centers that were set-up by our team and see completely different items.<br /> <br /> We also offer basic services such as supplying Electronic Packing Lists (EPLs), which are fully compliant with every major POS system in the industry. We supply printing templates for more professional looking ticket value cards and we create crane headers for our most popular crane themes and send them out at our customers’ request.<br /> <br /> None of the services mentioned above, including the full prize area setups, are at any additional cost to the customer. If they purchase our product, then we will work with them to try and make sure they have everything needed to succeed.<br /> <br /> What types of party supplies do you offer?<br /> We offer all of the standard paper plates, napkins, tablecloths, and balloons. In addition, our glow items, such as glow sticks, necklaces, and bracelets, are very popular for birthday parties.<br /> <br /> When will the next catalog come out, and what new items will be in it?<br /> We have one major redemption catalog release that coincides with the first major redemption trade show of the year, the Amusement Expo. After that, we have numerous seasonal and new item flyers that are mailed out and are available online to our customers.<br /> <br /> Where would you like to see the company five years from now?<br /> Five years from today, we would like to see the company continuing our upward trend of growth while retaining the same personal customer service experience provided as when there were four people in a small warehouse in 1986.<br /> <br /> For more information on Rhode Island Novelty, visit (www.rinovelty.com).