I’ve been asked that question, usually in a bewildered tone, dozens of times in the past four months. Those who aren’t familiar with Pop-A-Shot look confused. Those who are familiar with Pop-A-Shot look even more confused.
How did we get to this point?
Pop-A-Shot is the original electronic basketball arcade game. Created in 1981 by a former college coach in Kansas, it was the basketball game in bars and arcades in the ‘80s and ‘90s (you can learn more here).
My background is in advertising. I did create and publish a travel magazine, but that was 20 years ago. Since then I’ve worked for a string of online start-ups. Some still exist; most do not.
As I cycled through this series of high-risk enterprises, I realized that what I really wanted was to be an entrepreneur again. That’s when I discovered that the actual Pop-A-Shot company was for sale. It was at the exact same time that I discovered that there was an actual Pop-A-Shot company.
I was aware of the game, of course, but I thought Pop-A-Shot was just a generic name. I soon learned that Pop-A-Shot is to basketball arcade games what Kleenex is to tissues or Xerox is to copying or Googling is to, well, Googling. It’s a brand that’s become synonymous with the product.
Soon I found myself in Salina, Kansas, visiting Pop-A-Shot’s headquarters. I met Pop-A-Shot’s creator and owner, Ken Cochran, and heard stories about the early years. I visited with the employees and key suppliers (many of which are in Salina and have provided parts for Pop-A-Shot for years).
After a few months of negotiations and several more trips to central Kansas (and a lot of burgers at The Cozy Inn and a close encounter with a tornado), I became the owner of Pop-A-Shot on July 1. You may have read about it in The Journal.
Since then it’s been a lot of work behind the scenes. Cleaning a warehouse of 30 years of old games, miscellaneous parts and, well, junk. Creating new branding and a new logo. Revising the website. Creating an entirely new game for the home market that goes on sale today. Learning more about ecommerce and freight forwarding and logistics than I ever would have imagined.
During this time, I’ve also encountered tremendous love and affection for Pop-A-Shot. People tell me stories about a Pop-A-Shot they once owned or one they used to play at a bar. I feel a tremendous responsibility as the caretaker of this brand.
Thank you to everyone who has helped us to get here, a place that feels much more like a starting point than a finish line.
And to those who asked: Yes, I did buy Pop-A-Shot.