Friday, August 26, 2011

To Marty's Playland and the Trimper Family

Dear Folks Who Buy the Prizes For the Antique Cranes:

Please take a long, close look at this photo. See the baby in the background? That's me. I'm going to be... a lot older in December. I'm in Marty's in this photo because my parents thought it was fun to show those antique cranes. After all, they had played them as kids, as had their own parents. It was important to have their kids come to Marty's, to see and play those cranes.

Take a closer look. See how the bottom is filled with sand, and the prizes are stuck in it? Pretty cool, huh? And when I got a little older, the bottom was filled with tiny little seashells. There was little more exciting to me than when the claw scooped up a prize- or even better, a tiny seashell.

Now take a look at this one. this is my own son, overjoyed because the claw picked up a spring thing. It didn't pick something up every time, but it was totally awesome when it did, and it did more times than not. We ended up with a lovely bag of little plastic cars, rings, poppers, aliens, erasers, baseball cards, witchfingers... small prizes that not only kept us coming back to the cranes, but to Marty's Playland. Not only were we in the habit of spending long happy afternoons in front of the cranes, but also the skeeball, the coin-pushers, the roll-ball poker machines...

That picture is, unfortunately, two years old. Last year, you started putting in prizes that the claw had no chance of picking up. This year, you added to the insult by raising the price to 25 cents.

I don't mind the price change. I'm sure they started off as a penny, when my grandparents were loving them. They have been 10 cents as long as I can remember (we always called them the "10-cent cranes"). Keeping up antique machines is likely to be expensive, and the prices of the prizes- well, you could tell they were going up. Those springs are now retailed from Oriental Traditng Company for 2 cents. A little popper thing, the prize my other child liked most, now retails from Oriental Trading Company for a whole .04 cents (yes, I am aware other places sell them cheaper).

I do mind the prize change.

See, part of the charm of the cranes was going out with a bag full of those little toys. If you managed to snag a pen- the sign of a true crane master- you got a bigger prize. When I was younger, the prizes where indeed bigger- in size. Not in price. Blow-mold plastic was cheaper then. Getting a little acryllic animal (imitating those fine little glass ones) was a treasure to keep. Oh, yes, I still have them- from when I was seven.

How important are those cranes to your business? I don't know. But I can tell you that with the change, when we had a chance over our week stay to go to an arcade again, we didn't go to Marty's. We went a block down from our apartment, and had a ball, and got a lot more tickets that got us a lot more prizes. Any other year, we would have gone to Marty's. Every other year, we HAVE gone to Marty's.

And next year? We are considering if there are places other than Ocean City to take our vacation.

All for 2 cents. Seem strange? That's what happens when traditions are snapped.

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