Vintage Marketing Plays To Fond Memories

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YEARS AGO, kiddie rides used to be all the rage outside of supermarkets and in retail establishments. Pop in a dime or a quarter, and a small child can simulate riding a horse, a carousel, or even an ATV or motorcycle, for about a minute at a time. According to Damon Carson of Kiddie Rides USA, these children's rides may be able to help you lure customers into your store.

If marketed effectively, Carson states, these classic amusement rides can play on the nostalgia of adults while introducing them to children. They can turn a mundane store visit into a memorable experience.

"If an adult and kid are coming into your store, a salesperson can pull a quarter out of his pocket and 'treat' the kid to a ride on the kiddie ride," Carson says. "He's then building a relationship with the child as well as an adult, someone who might buy a cycle [from the store]."

Another advantage of having a kiddie ride in your store is to keep children from damaging the merchandise you have out on the floor. "You'd rather have a 3-year-old kid playing with a kiddie ride than with the real stock for sale. God forbid they put a scratch on your stock or knock it over," he says.

Though the money made per kiddie ride is hardly a drop in the bucket, Carson states that the investment is more toward building relationships. "But you can make money off of them in the right location." Carson says.

The Denver-based Kiddie Rides USA restores the old rides and sells them to retailers from all ends of the spectrum: From ice cream shops to furniture stores, from restaurants to dealerships. Rides start at $2,400, and go up to $6,000 for vintage 1950s rides.

For installation, all you need is a standard 110-volt outlet. You also can choose how much to charge for rides, and you can even make them free. Rides also can be customized with store logos and colors. Kiddie Rides USA also sells soda fountains and electric trains. Contact: Kiddie Rides USA, 800-448-6888. —Cynthia Furey