Vintage Kiddie Boat Ride from the 60’s & 70’s
Luxury Real Estate acquires a vintage coin operated “Kiddie Boat” ride from the Midwest! These extremely rare rides are often discovered privately, refurbished and sold for $17,000 and up!
We have been selling real estate on Balboa Island for a while and our office has the perfect spot for some sort of “gumball machine”. When I lived on Emerald a few years ago, my neighbor told me how he operated an arcade on the peninsula and his son bought a car when he was 16 with all the money he saved from selling gumballs. I thought, wow… I want that to be my kids’ story. My children, Scarlett and Oliver, already had their first version of a “lemonade stand” by selling “I Love Balboa Island” wristbands on the boardwalk and at the ferry crossing in front of Dre’s Balboa Island Berry Stand. They loved sitting on the seawall and were great/tenacious salespeople! Even shouting they accept venmo if a potential customer told them they didn’t have any cash on them! Most customers were standing in line at the ferry with cash in hand, so it was the perfect scenario. Then add two cute kids selling a wristband that pretty much matches your hearts rhythm! They turned pennies into dollars all day long. The first windfall day of cash left the kids with about $75 each. The next day Scarlett treated her entire class to ice creams and popsicles after school. I told her it was her money and it was awesome to see her having fun with it and bringing smiles to others faces. We talked about taking portions of that money to tithe, enjoy and come up with new business ideas to invest in to keep multiplying the effect on a greater scale.
Corona Virus strikes the core of Balboa Island Merchants and Our Gang’s General Store goes out of business! What just happened? What is happening? How can this be happening?! Immediately the kids and I talked about how our office could be the perfect home for “Mustard”, the yellow coin operated horse that had been in front of the Balboa Island toy store for over 30+ years. I called the owner and left a voicemail, texted, emailed, DM’d through social media and never heard back… In hindsight, they had likely already worked the deal where Mustard would be donated to the Balboa Island Museum, where he is happily corralled today! I then jumped online to see if I could purchase another coin operated horse for our storefont… maybe a unicorn? And then I found just that!
Come to find out, in the Kiddie Ride world, the horses are the most common rides that were manufactured. There are many for sale and prices range from $600-$1,000. As I am browsing numerous Kiddie Ride related websites, I came across a new listing on ebay for a Vintage 60’s/70’s Kiddie Boat Ride for $5,000. I instantly froze in awe!!! We have to get this! The island needs this! This is a perfect fit! We are a nautical community and our firm specializes in selling real estate on Balboa Island and in Newport Harbor. This is every part of our lifestyle! Think of how many residents will recognize this vintage ride from their childhood and will now get to take pictures with their kids grandkids in it! It could be a new island tradition!
$5,000? Yikes… It was worth it and I would pay it, but perhaps I could get a better deal. This was like a smaller version of buying balboaisland.com. When I acquired the domain several years ago, the previous owner wanted $100,000 for it. I knew it was worth it, but I only had $80,000 set aside for an investment and I wanted to get the best deal possible. After almost 6 months of negotiating, I purchased the domain for $50,000. From my perspective, I absolutely bought below market value and hit the jackpot for the future I envisioned. Today that vision continues to come to life and now this Kiddie Boat Ride is part of it. How much did I pay? This ebay item was selling during the height of the covid pandemic on ebay for “local pickup only” in Sioux City, Iowa! I messaged the owner for a few days about the cost of shipping being $1,000 and how most people in the US are not going to travel and pick this item up. Most people wouldn’t, but I would! Eeeek. I had already checked flights from here to Iowa and rental cars from Iowa to CA. I could take the adventure for less than the shipping costs and I really needed an adventure. I had so much riding on the purchase with booking the flight and car, that I just wanted to talk to the seller to confirm all the pickup and payment details. If you have used eBay, you know they make it impossible to talk to talk to sellers other than via their monitored messaging system. The seller was very responsive, but I could tell that some messages where not going through. We finally outsmarted the monitor, whether that was a bot or a human… The deal was made after decoding a secret message containing the seller’s phone number broken down into numbers that mirrored my costs for flight, truck rental and the boat ride… I read the message a few times thinking, he is really close to my costs for each part of the journey, but why is he using such specific numbers… than it hit me! I thought, if the first 3 numbers are the area code for Sioux City, this is pretty amazing. I googled and boom, I was on a phone call shortly thereafter.
I offered $2,000 and the seller took it. They had recently purchased the boat along with other vintage items like pinball machines and other rides from a business in Kansas City and were into it for less than I offered. I booked a 1 stop flight from Ontario to Dallas Ft Worth to Sioux City Iowa for $270. My buddy and business partner, Greg Earl, drove me to Ontario Airport at 5AM. It was quite empty and I flew to Dallas Ft Worth. Everyone practiced social distancing from ticketing to security and check-in and seating during the flight, but as soon as the plane landed, nobody cared! They all cut in front of each other and pushed each other off the plane. DFW was empty… EMPTY. I flew to Sioux City and still question how it gets to be called a city. It took about 30 minutes for my LYFT to arrive wearing his facemask. Cool kid. Told me Sioux City was going to be the next epicenter of the virus based on the news. Hoping that would not be the case. He took me to enterprise rental car. Got an awesome Dodge Ram Rebel for 3 days, UNLIMITED miles for $120!!!
Landed, got rental pickup truck and threw my carry-on in. It was packed full of straps to tie-down this vintage ride and a few days worth of clothes. Siri navigated me to a garage in Sioux City. I sent a text message to the owner, garage door opens… I guess there is no turning back. I mean I have so much invested; I am taking this thing and will figure out any problems that might exist. Looks rad but plan on making some changes! Paypal transaction takes place in the driveway.
Boom! Done! Let’s hit the road. Drove west for several hours through Kansas before I took a stop and hit a Wal-Mart. Didn’t have enough time to play wall-mart bingo. I just stocked up on Beef Jerky, Blue Diamond Almonds, Pringles, etc. I drove and drove and eventually hit Colorado. Now the terrain was getting exciting but it was also getting dark. I should have stayed on the interstate and returned home quickly for timing, but part of me wanted to hike and explore some of these mountainous adventure areas. I took some side routes and had the most awesome midnight drive through the mountains as a crescent moon set and grew larger with every turn over peaking mountains. I crashed for an hour (sleepwise), uncomfortably in a small mountain town in a church parking lot… Sleeping in the truck and the temperature was not working for me… The truck must have detected the keys at some point and the locks and lights turned on waking me from my sleep. I thought someone was trying to break into the truck and lost my mind for a few seconds. I decided to get back on the road. I continued to drive through the night and eventually saw the sunrise, elk trying to cross the road on several occasions and rivers in the landscape. With no safe place to pull off and sleep for miles, there were several moments I surpassed my capacity of driving safely… I finally found a small town with a gas station and fell asleep for 4 hours. After that, I headed up toward Vegas and back home, with the exception of running out of gas 3 miles west of the Primm exit! Let me set the stage… I have never ran out of gas in my life… Part of this I blame on renting a vehicle and not knowing the warning signs, etc. Part of it I blame on my facetime call with my daughter, who I was so happy to chat with during this never ending drive! I literally just told her how I had been sitting on my butt for a few days and really needed a workout. My oh my… How the universe decided to respond immediately! The truck began to shake and I pulled over. I thought something may have blown in the engine but no… I just ran out of gas for the first time in my life at the age of 38. Crap! The gas light was on and those beeping noises that I hear 30 minutes earlier. in the middle of negotiating a 1.5m cash commercial deal in LA, were not text messaging sounds. I now find myself trying to hitchhike back to Primm. It’s only 3 miles, but the cars passing by don’t know that’s all I need. I thought that in all of the US, this has got to be the place where someone would be willing to pickup a stranger as they are almost to Vegas, ready to make a bunch of bad decisions anyway. But no! I got a whole lot of looking at me and keep driving. I forgave the UPS semi because it’s probably against company policy. I then crossed back over and changed into my running clothes I packed for my original plans to visit Bridal Veil Falls in Coloroda. I ran 3 miles back to Primm in front of the Google Solar farm. I got thirsty pretty fast. I then got several honks… Not of concern, like… “What is this man doing running in the desert?” but more like “yeah man, keep running!” At the truckstop, I bought a 5 gallon container, topped it off and then headed southwest with a stranger who trusted me for a 3 mile return trip to the truck. I offered him venmo and he replied, “pay it forward”!
Making Old New Again
The original boat was pretty rad, but we had some issues. It was setup on the original quarter coin mechanism and the timer was broke. You could pay a quarter for an endless ride. Luckily the Kiddie Ride company and Coin Mech, Inc. are still in business! They provide new rides and updated parts for older rides. The Kiddie boat was taken to The Tint Pros shop on Newport Blvd for refurbishing. Ideal timing since tint was not an essential business. Greg and I tinkered with the quarter box timer for a while and I almost electrocuted myself. We do have that on video! I know enough to make smart guestimates, but am not a licensed electrician! We called it a day and did some googling later. I found an updated $ bill box acceptor where you could set a custom ride/vend time. Banks are a pain with quarters and most people have a buck on them rather than quarters, so we made the investment! $500 upgrade. While we waited for it to arrive, we took apart the entire ride, bought new hardware, sanded down the rust, paint, etc. and painted the pieces together as a family to a more Luxury Real Estate look! We wanted Navy Blue, Chris Craft, Silver, Chrome, American Flag, Cool Boat Name, etc. It was coming together piece by piece, just in time for Memorial Day Weekend!
The Moment of Truth…
The Moment of Truth Part 2
Life is about the memories we make and choose to remember. So many island families and guests remember taking their kids to the banana stand for a treat and then a riding on Mustard as they wandered Marine Ave, checked out the shops, enjoyed food and the harbor activities. We are hoping we are writing history as we deliver this new family fun memory making machine to the island. The kids and I picked out a lot of fun photo props, so you can have some memorable and adorable pictures to look back on!
The Boat Name