So, these are my latest at AOL Small Business.
The first joint mashes up the latest in Boombox technology with vintage leather suitcases. And the hipsters rejoiced! Personally, I admire the work of Mr. Simo and dig the fact tat the BoomCase gave me a reason to reference L.L.'s first foray into the rap game. Rock the Bells, yo.
Next up, the story of the Alamo Drafthouse, awesomest movie haus in these here United States. They serve drinks with the Marx Brothers. What more does any cinema buff need? How about a pinch on the neck from Mr. Spock?
Live long, read this blog, and prosper, my friends.
Over the past half-century or so, portable music players became commonplace and have rocked the proverbial party in many forms. Back when kids bought 45s and went sock-hopping,record players came in suitcases. When rap first hit and cassette tapes were all the rage,boomboxes ruled the Reagan-era roost. And today, iPods are the music player of choice, withmore than 275 million sold. The devices may change, but the song remains the same -- people want their music and they want it now. Enter the BoomCase.
When Dominic Francisco Odbert, 26, set out to make a music player of his own, he took elements of the past, mixed them with technology of the present, and created the BoomCase -- an iPod stereo inside a vintage suitcase powered by a rechargeable AMG battery. Odbert's inspiration? "I thought it would be fun," he says.
The fun has just begun for Odbert and his two fellow BoomCase creators, brother J.P. and girlfriend, Mary-Anne Sarao. The original model was constructed in December 2009 and debuted at a picnic in early 2010, which led to requests from friends, pushing Odbert to put a model up for sale on Etsy last August. It didn't take long for BoomCase buzz to hit the Web, and now he estimates that the company shipped at least 100 BoomCases in 2010. At an average price of $400, that's $40,000 in a pretty short period of time, which bodes well for 2011 sales. "Things are good, but it's overwhelming, and I haven't fully grasped everything yet," says Odbert, who now sells directly on the BoomCase site. "Seeing the BoomCase in Rolling Stone was shocking."
It's not hard to see why the BoomCase has garnered attention -- in fact, so much so that Odbert had to stop taking custom orders. The antique suitcases retrofitted with three-or-four speakers have an eye-catching design, but the BoomCase is much more than a hipster novelty item. Odbert assures audiophiles that the sound will fill a room, but also says the suitcase hi-fis are easy to use and are not designed solely for tech-savvy music geeks -- even if taste-makers like superstar Dutch D.J. Sander Kleinenberg own BoomCases.
For Odbert, the BoomCase is the perfect mix of art and commerce. A Sacramento native, Odbert learned to work with sheet metal from his grandfather, and his father employed him to help remodel foreclosed homes. During high school, Odbert bought, fixed and resold cars, and in his 20s, he made and sold his own pewter and silver jewelry. He had a prime spot in downtown San Francisco as part of the "Street Artist Program" where he was selling four to five rings and necklaces a day. A decent little business, but by then he was getting more and more interested in following his artistic muse.
*An Elf "Quote-Along" where you can channel your inner-Buddy in a sea of twirly swirly gumdrops
*A Harold & Kumar screening with free White Castle-style burgers as part of the "High for the Holidays" series
*A "Terror Tuesday" showing of Silent Night, Deadly Night
*An old-fashioned XMas Pops video karoake group sing
If these don't sound like your typical yuletide traditions, it's because they don't originate from a traditional kind of place. They are just a few of the untold special events held throughout the year at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the Austin, Texas-based theater chain started by Tim League in 1997.
As the proprietor of a 21st-century Cinema Paradiso, League is, well, in a league of his own. What started as a film buff's respite from a soul-crushing career has become one of the great American entertainment stories in its own right. The Alamo Drafthouse is much more than a standard multiplex showing the latest releases -- it's a movie lover's dream complete with cold beer, steak sandwiches (among many offerings), celebrity sightings, air sex competitions, and one-of-a-kind nights like the killer duo of the Marx Brothers Horse Feathers and the Prohibition-era bathtub gin cocktail, the Bee's Knees.
League, 40, explains why nerds are central to the company's success, if an Alamo Drafthouse will be coming soon as a theater near you and what kind of marketing lessons you can learn from Mr. Spock.
How did you get started in the showing-movies business?
It wasn't a well thought out plan. I was an engineer for Shell Oil and knew it was not the type of career I wanted to work all my life and retire from. I was living in Bakersfield, Calif., in 1994 and there was an art deco theater, the Tejon Theater, which means either "badger" or "gold ingot," that I drove by going to work. One day, I saw a "For Lease" sign in the window. That night, I talked about how cool it would be to run a movie theater with my then-girlfriend, now-wife, Karrie, and some other friends. I took it over at 24, which was a great time to be too arrogant for my own good. I thought I could run the Tejon even though I had no experience whatsoever.
Were you a movie buff?
That was my sole credential. I spent my formative years, from 12 to 18, in St. Clairsville, a small town in southeast Ohio. It was during the first wave of mom-and-pop video stores, and every weekend my group of friends would hang out watching movies. We had limited entertainment options, basically cruising around finding nooks and crannies to drink beer, so there was a lot of camaraderie in our movie marathons.
What lessons did you learn from running the Tejon for two years?
First is the biggest cliche: location, location, location. The Tejon was perceived to be unsafe because we were literally on the other side of the tracks. The second thing is to be financially sensible. We didn't have much money, so I kept rigorous controls. We did most of the renovations ourselves. It was the same approach we took at the original Alamo Drafthouse. The Tejon was more indie cinema than we are now, but it served as a perfect incubator for when we moved to Austin in 1996.
Why did you choose Austin?
I lived in Houston until I was 12, and both my wife and I went to Rice and spent our weekends in Austin because it was happening. We liked the city and it met our limited criteria of being a university town with a dynamic, fun entertainment scene and reasonable real estate.
How did you get the original two-screen Alamo Drafthouse up and running?
We spent about $250,000. I was able to take $50,000 out of Bakersfield, but that didn't mean much because I put $50,000 into it. My wife's parents mortgaged their house, some friends invested, and in 1996, Bank of America offered an "Invest in America" loan. That was for $50,000. Apparently, we were one of a very small percentage, like 5 percent, that paid it back. From Bakersfield, we kept some fixtures and equipment like projectors, but we put in all new everything else: Kitchen, plumbing, air conditioning, a grand staircase, a new roof that had to be raised a bit. Again, we did all of the construction, and whatever else we could do, we did. To this day, I don't know how it happened.
Did you always serve alcohol at your theaters?
In Bakersfield, I showed up in a T-shirt and jeans, assuming the state would give me a liquor license no problem. There was some age discrimination, but I didn't present myself well and we were denied, rightfully so. I didn't make that mistake in Austin. We outsourced the process to a third-party company that handles liquor licenses.
|< Prev||Next >|