A Bar Owner's
Guide to Profits from Steel Tip Darts
by Frederick Everson
The famous English lexicographer, Samuel Johnson said, “There is nothing which has yet been contrived by man, by which so much happiness is produced as by a good tavern or inn.” I concur, and if the establishment has a dartboard hanging on the wall, it offers patrons a chance to engage in friendly, wholesome competition, further enhancing the warmth of any establishment.
Unlike pinball machines, video games, and even electronic darts -- a steel tip dartboard will not jam coins, or require constant maintenance. Nor will it foster arguments or ill will, as some other un-named tavern games often do. And while a steel tip dartboard may not generate direct income, it can be a powerful tool in building a reliable customer base.
Take the Fox and Hounds Irish Pub in Brandon, Florida. When I first started playing darts at the pub, there were six boards up in the house. Two were in a room dominated by a pool table, two were impeded by the front door, and two were in a dining room that is off limits except on league nights. When management was changed a couple of years ago, the owner correctly estimated the potential of the dart player base. She removed the pool table and the room became a well lit, comfortable dart center with three boards. It was soon apparent that the pub’s affiliation with English darts was a cornerstone of the business. On any given weeknight all the open boards are apt to be occupied by dart players drinking beer and having a good time.
The client base at the Fox is basically young and upscale, with a small core of veteran players. This crowd is apt to be attracted to steel tip darts because the game requires quick thinking, basic math skills, and strategy. In this atmosphere, a steel tip dart game ought to thrive, and generate a regular following.
It takes a little thought to make the game work -- even in a perfect setting with ideal clientele. The first consideration is to place the board in a comfortable place to play. This means having room for players and spectators, with plenty of space for glasses and ashtrays. Best quality dartboards cost about $50 retail, so there is no excuse to settle for a cheap board. Make sure the board is hung at the regulation height, and that the line is clearly laid out at the correct distance. This information is always included with a new dartboard.
Chalk boards are the traditional way to keep score in this game, and chalk is cheap. Just make sure the scoreboards are good quality and easy to write on. Have erasers attached to the scoreboard. Keep a good supply of chalk. Have plenty of inexpensive house darts on hand, and carry a small selection of dart supplies. Make playing darts easy, comfortable and fun. If the tavern owner doesn’t know steel darts he needs to find someone who does, and get some advice.
Tavern owners also need to know that this is a big beer drinkers game. Few dart players are teetotalers. They also need to know that the best players always bring their own darts, and that good quality dartboards last a long time. The idea is to get the game going, get new people interested, and have them drink beer and spend money while they are playing. Most people enjoy friendly competition, and the incentive to come out and play is strong if there is a strong nucleus of regular players.
A house ladder, or leader board is another great way to promote the game. It gives players a chance to challenge other players to vie for position on the ladder. See the article on how to run a house ladder elsewhere on this site. If you own a tavern, or know someone who does, steel darts could be the way to a dependable customer base. If you are trying to get a dart game set up in your favorite pub, use this article to your best advantage. A dart game needn’t be a hard sell. The start up cost is cheap, and the potential for profit is large. A look at all of the dart information on the Internet should convince anyone that the interest in steel tipped darts is nothing like a fad, and can be the cornerstone of a good business.