View Full Version : Newby Haunter
02-26-2008, 09:38 AM
Hello Everyone! I have been lurking here for some time now, so I thought I would introduce myself. My name is Vince, and I am located in the Midwest. Been in love with Halloween all of my life. When I was a kid my parents neighbors hated halloween because I would decorate their house and yard(the neighborhood association did not like it). Now in my neighborhood, the school busses stop in front of my house in October so the kids can see the house.
I can remember being 15 or 16 years old(some time ago) and visiting The Raven's Grinn for the first time! All I could think was Mr. Warfield was the luckiest guy in the world....here's someone who really loves what he is doing and making a living at it! Isn't that the goal of every person?
I have been researching opening my own haunt for 2 years now and I believe that I am as ready as I will ever be. I have a business plan that incorperates an off season business as well which will cover the bills. And, now I THINK that I have found a location. I know that I am new here, but if you don't mind I would like to ask your advise. Here is my question:
I originally was looking at a community of about 300,000. That city actually has a zoning document specifically for haunted attractions. It is great that they are addressing our businesses, however....I have found out that these ordinances exist specifically to deter haunted attractions from opening. The list of requirements makes it almost impossible to make any kind of profit for at least 10 years. So, I am looking elsewhere. I have found a "perfect" location that meets all of my criteria in a town of 30,000 about 30 min away. Do you think it is feasable to open that far away from the population base and make it work? I am shooting for 5,000-8,000 attendence the first year. Your thoughts would be appreciated. Thank you.
02-26-2008, 09:42 AM
Vince, how populated is that other target you want to open at? And methinks you are making the right decision by looking elsewhere. You can pour in literally millions of dollars into a location but if they already have ordinances deterring haunted houses, you simply will not open.
Look into other local cities or unincorporated areas that would be county controlled. If there is easy road access or freeway access to other population centers, you can target those areas instead of the original city.
02-26-2008, 10:00 AM
Thank you for your feedback. The new area that I am looking at has an immediate population base of 30k, but is only 30 min. away from 300,000 +.
The new bldg is also in a Tiff District and Enterprise zone so there are many benefits and incentives to locate there. I am just worried about being able to draw from 30 min out.
02-26-2008, 11:06 AM
Welcome to you. I live in a smaller city and folks drive from the big cities to visit here...up to 5 hours away. Even from nearby states.
They say build it and they will come. Make it different and awesome and they surely drive for miles to see it!
I open later in the season...but we also drive 5 hours or better to go to other haunts for a group staff trip to have some fun.
02-26-2008, 11:39 AM
A 30 minute drive isn't bad at all. At the new location is it within an hour of any other populations?
02-26-2008, 12:18 PM
Yes, there are several small/medium communities within 1 hour of the new location. There is about 700,000 people within 1 hour.
02-26-2008, 01:40 PM
30 min is not a bad drive, advertising is key to getting people to your place. The first year you may not get the numbers you want but put on a good show at a good price for the type of show your doing and people will show up. Haunt fans will drive to see a good haunt, he// we went about 2 1/2 hours out of your way to see the Ravens Grinn Inn. Good luck!!
02-26-2008, 06:32 PM
The whole mentality of "Driving" might be in for a hard change, everything changes, prices of this and that and things we need to have everyday increase and gasoline at $3.20 a gallon......??
02-26-2008, 07:52 PM
I am in my second year in the business. We are from a VERY small rural area where folks can be "small town, simple minded" and not want to pay much. We had 2,000 people for a 12 hr opening time and people are still talking about it. We advertised out 45 minutes away and people were waiting 1 to 1.5 hrs. As long as you promote the event, people will drive for something different in entertainment. I am also in the real estate business and selling the event is the key. Get sponsors to help foot the bill with advertising. You may not be able to open as large as you would like the first year but it will grow. We are opening every weekend in Oct and hosting blood mobiles, food drives, etc for the local market to pull folks in. You would be surprised how many people can't wait until we open this year. I am still paying for mine from last year but trucking along and planning better for this year. I think it's tough to make a profit the first year in. My mistake was not being open long enough in October.
Most of the folks here are very helpful and will share great ideas. There are tons of websites with information on the net to show where and what to do. My biggest mistake was paying for things that when I got them were outrageous once you saw what you got for the money.
Keep looking for the location but if you promote (I suggest with a website to track it) you can see where you need to be with advertising. Just a few thoughts from a person that is very "green" in the business.
02-26-2008, 10:05 PM
Glad to meet a new haunter!
If you build it, and build it well, put on a "GREAT" show that makes people talk, people will drive to your location. Then when you get on the popular list.....LOOK OUT CAUSE HERE THEY COME!!!
Best of luck to you, and don't give up! You have to fail a little and deal with hard times to have a successful business. All business owners go through it and thats what makes them better and stonger.
02-27-2008, 06:52 AM
I originally was looking at a community of about 300,000. That city actually has a zoning document specifically for haunted attractions. It is great that they are addressing our businesses, however....I have found out that these ordinances exist specifically to deter haunted attractions from opening. The list of requirements makes it almost impossible to make any kind of profit for at least 10 years.
Since the requirements are so strict, I'm curious to know if there are any other haunts located there.
02-27-2008, 07:14 AM
Thank you all for your input and encouragement! Jim, I certainly understand what you are saying, my day job is in the commercial truck industry and we have definately seen a decrease since diesel hit the $3 mark!
I agree that advertising will be the key. I have over 17 years of experience in advertising, marketing, and sales in small to medium markets so hopefully I can translate that into the Haunt world.
Empress, there is one other haunt that is entirely outdoors, and they are outside the city limits as well.
Thanks again everyone and I look forward to this journey!
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