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Warehouse Raid

Everyone loves a good warehouse raid so I thought I’d share the experience I had back in March of 2005. I got lucky and found a place very close (5 minutes) from my old house in the City of Chicago. The operator had moved into darts, pool tables and jukes exclusively and was eliminating all the junk that had been sitting around taking up space. She (yes she) had been systematically gutting and smashing cabs for months before I found the place. Why? She only had a tiny dumpster and wanted to maximize the amount of stuff she packed into it each week. I rushed over to the warehouse shortly after I got off the phone with the op, there was no time to waste.

I had to drive around the block and down an alley to access the loading dock area, if you could call it that. It was tough to maneuver my truck as there were some awkward turns. I parked and went inside; it wasn’t well lit and all I could see as I walked through the door was junk piled everywhere. Not all of it on shelves, some on the floor, some on tables, just about anywhere. Jackpot! After a quick run down of her operation she told me that she hadn’t used the stuff in years and wanted to sell the property. She said to me during the conversation, “Wish I had known someone wanted this stuff about 6 months ago”. Ahhhh! Not what you want to hear on your first warehouse raid. I asked if I could take a look around and she was more than happy to let me wander through the mess.

Warehouse Raid Pics:

I took a quick mental inventory of everything she had and tried to come up with an offer. You can see there are a few rough gems in the lot and about 35 to 40 cabs in various states of disrepair. I wouldn’t be getting the old EM pin stuff or the Jukes as she felt they were worth a small fortune. I offered to take all cabs, tech equipment, parts and manuals for $1k in cash and she took it. I gave her half down and promised the rest when I picked up the last load. I took what I could in my truck and ran home to call Uhaul. I had just secured my first warehouse raid and saved some games from the dumpster. The OP got some cash and a cleaned out warehouse in the deal.

First load of parts:

I managed to get a trailer on short notice and somehow backed it into the loading dock area behind the warehouse. It took about fifteen minutes to do this with small movements back and forth until I could get the right angle. There was just no space in that alley. Once in the dock I had my first batch of cabs lined up and packed onto the trailer in no time. I made three trips with the trailer over two days. Where did I put it all you ask? Luckily we were in the process of renovating our new house in the ‘burbs and the 24′ x 34’ garage was a mess, but mostly empty. I wouldn’t need to pay for storage, I could just park the stuff in my garage. The only problem was the drive between the warehouse and the new place. It was a good 45min one way, so the round trips started to add up.

Cab Haul:

On the last day of the haul the operator did some back pedaling on me and didn’t want me to take it all, verbal agreement or not. I had the upper hand as I still hadn’t paid the last installment, but I still ended up paying a few extra bills to take the Pac-Man mini and Chexx hockey. With the op payments, Uhaul rental and gas I put about $1500 into this bulk buy. I sold the pac cabs and cocktail tables pretty fast and recovered more than half of my investment. Then I sold the “dead row” games in bulk and recovered the rest and even made a few bucks. Over the next year I sold the Ice Cold Beer, Centipede mini, Asteroids and Space Invader cabs, lots of parts and pcbs, all for 100% profit. I think I ended up with at least $1800 in my pocket. I picked up another complete Chexx Hockey shortly after the raid for $100 and then sold them both for $1k! Couldn’t believe it, but all the money helped fund the purchase of my keeper games. I still have a few parts left from the raid, but all the cabs are long gone.

One thing became very apparent as I went through all the parts and cabs. This OP was the queen of conversions and bootlegs. Some of the games had been converted multiple times. Control panels were turned over and used again (what?), adapters made, wiring hacked, and bootleg boards a-plenty could be found. Most of the bootlegs ended up in Mark Spaeth’s collection 🙂 Take a look through the photos and you’ll see what I mean. Overall it was a good experience.

Games and Parts at new place:

I found a few interesting things included with all the paperwork and manuals I grabbed, including an inventory list that would make any die-hard collector weep. So many cabs met their doom in this Op’s warehouse. You can see a lot of remains in my pictures. I did post the flow chart I found and I’ll post more fun tidbits soon. There are still warehouses out there, so don’t give up. Spread the word amongst your friends, relatives, co-workers, everyone. You never know what might come your way.

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