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View Full Version : Turning "The Corner"



Jim Warfield
04-10-2008, 06:30 PM
I seem to be reading many people here recently who have just began their first haunted house or are getting much closer to committing to do one.
This got me thinking about when I began my place, The Ravens Grin Inn.
From before the purchase of this place I actually began work on it before I owned it by salvaging used lumber from a farmhouse I was given.
I worked on the house for a year before I opened even though I didn't really have much to show to people I was giving a $2.00 tour, walking them through a mainly empty old house and telling them what I was going to be doing here, I got no complaints because people were $2.00-curious, I guess? One local high school girl did pee her pants during one of these tours even though we were all in a very sunny, well lit room and nobody was trying to frighten her.
I didn't have a clue as to what I was doing though as pertaining to actually doing more than just what I was doing, just talking and escorting them through.
Things like this develop slowly, if at all. Be patient with yourself.
That first October I actually took in (for me) a fair amount of money, enough for me to decide to quit my previous job and devote all my time and energy to just this and this was the turning point, yes, I had to really watch every penny to make it through til business found me in the off season, which had something to do with me haunting the parking lot outside of my house and glad-handing and visiting with every car and person who happened along this way.
By going full-time haunter I WAS home to answer the phone and promote my place I WAS here to answer the door if a newspaper reporter was outside snapping pictures . I was available to be available to take people through my house , attempting to impress them, entertain them, maybe make them scream, laugh and be impressed enough so as to guarantee they would be telling friends and relatives , insuring future business for me.
I have been fortunate enough to have received tremendous free advertising throughout the years , usually because I WAS here to respond in a timely fashion to any inquiries.
Some here have put me and my place on a list of impressive, large-money haunted houses because I frequent this board and a few others. This is very far from the way it is, my house and haunted business is really a very small, mostly one-man operation most of the time and in the fall we only have a very limited number of employees and we have never seen more than probably 500 customers in any given night.
Of course my method of impressing people falls directly upon my sweating back, doing 98% of the work here and doing most of the house tours myself, except in the fall as already mentioned...
When Larry's first list of 13 haunts was made he included my place because it is so unusual...and I guess that it is?
I really am a very lazy guy to buy a haunted house , to make it into a haunted house! Yes, I do have some "special" helpers here sometimes and they have scared away some of my other helpers..and an ex-wife or two.....

shawnc
04-10-2008, 08:42 PM
Do you ever get bored doing the same tour over and over? I'm sure you often do things to make it different but, like you said, it's pretty much just you doing it all.

Greg Chrise
04-10-2008, 09:01 PM
Well.....

7 physical levels is not small. Nearly the lenght of a small city block and much of it subterranian? Nope pretty big.
An hour and a half or more means there MUST be something in there to talk about.
As for high dollar? Even if everything came out of dumpster, you have jumping up out of your chair at 8 AM and working until 5 PM and then giving tours until 2AM every other night or more.

In today's world, that would be a hands on superintendents position that makes $50,000 per year so 20 years of that equals 1 million dollars invested. But had you never made it your full time play ground it never would have flourished.

That's why your taxes went up a few years back. The actual show is a value as for $12 you get (at $25 per hour) $37.50 worth of show. SURE having been a customer you are gonna tell people about it. Both your friends and enemies!

And all that running around? Are your legs insured like Tina Turner?

Butt, I do remember the things I did to start various business and how clever this can make a person. I started a garage and did major jobs in exchange for the customers buying expensive tools or providing what they could in exchange. That's the same as finding sponsors who hope to revisit and tell others about your existance so you will be there when they need or want you. I still have all of this equipment here at the compound and could open another garage right now if this company that is a luxury purchase tanks. It all came down to deciding to have a playground instead of reporting to a job. Not waiting for the world to approve of anything. Cause they never will.

butt, if you look around, I have seen some people who aren't really living the dream. They tell people they are but, they aren't. I've noticed the motorcycle shop in the last 20 years, the show chopper probably runs 500 miles and then is torn down for another rebuild that takes a year and a half. This cycle (pun intended) has happened more than about 8 times now. It's boring to get an update from this guy now. So maybe it's about showing a paint job up on blocks? Really shouldn't be allowed to touch wrenches? I dunno. Probably. It doesn't look like a fully developed dream to me? It didn't/doesn't to his savy customers either. To some extent you either have a talent or skill or you don't.

It's easy to look at one's self and not be real proud of the accomplishments. The things you see every day to others has a level of appreciation and worth. Even with the $2 tour, you cheated and had 100 years of haunted history that having lived in the same town heard about and absorbed over about 30 years in preparation. That's cheating.

This you have to have a job vs. living the dream is quite the argument that takes a certain amount of experience in life to know the world is wrong.

Perhaps you have to whip that dream at least 14 times before you get it right?

So, don't be trying to screw with our heads mister role model actually doing it guy!

Jim Warfield
04-10-2008, 09:22 PM
I have always said:"If I get bored, I only have myself to blame!"
I do and say what I want to most of the time. If I fart, I blame the customers,"Oh, were you that scared?"
Steve and friends were here last Saturday night and they saw and heard quite a few "new" things , Steve even felt compelled to phone and discuss these things with us, like "Paco" the large golden mushroom! Also was discussed was the silly sign "Chew Me" illuminated on the back of my suitcoat during the front room routine, but only illuminated for a select few during that portion of the tour.
My customers and even hecklers inspire me to new things, along with the way people's reactions help me to redefine how I am going to use something to the utmost effect is always an on-going fun exploration.
Customers also add to the dialog as we give and take during the tour.
If you ever think that you have heard and seen it all when dealing with the public, that will be when something really nutty will happen.
There was the crowded, busy October night when a young Mother was nursing her newborn in my front room as she sat wedged between numerous others on a couch!
No, I had never seen that in a haunted house before. (or since)
Or the night two girls asked if they could take off their tops because they were hot? (They might not have been "hot" by some guy's standards but I thought they were nice, all four of them, er I mean the two of them.)
No, not too boring here, but then all of my tours are not exact copies of one another either. I sometimes see to that.

Oh, yes, I can speak for over an hour about the haunted history of this house, I can tell it seriously or with humor or a mix, I can also tell it forwards or backwards, sort of and of course sometimes my voice is in better shape than it is other times , sometimes the whole presentation is my own personal study in voice control and timing and inflections for maximum effect whether humorous, serious or scary.
I find that I am very much "alive" when I am doing this with all of little mental tasks that it may require of me simultaneously.

Jim Warfield
04-12-2008, 02:38 AM
Tonight's business began with ten local kids with short attention spans, but then they have all been here numerous times and were maybe showing off for one another by constantly chattering, which is just something I always am used to with certain age groups.
Then four more showed up having driven from three hours away , they are college kids from Lake Forrest.
"Can't decide whether it's a woods or a body of water? I know, it's a wet woody!"
During my routine I mention several first names in a grouping and later the one couple said this really got their attention because the first four names I happened to rattle off are the first names of their friends.(Like I must be psychic!)
then I made a reference to California and three of the four of them are from that state(I must be psychic!) Then they spotted the bumper sticker on my refrigerator from Hobbs Grove, "We live there!...near there."
Visitors from Hobbs Grove gave me that sticker several years ago(They must be psychic!)
At 4:30 in the afternoon the one of them who had been here before out voted the one who instead wanted to go see "Midget Village" in the Chicago area.
"Is that a tourist attraction?" (I had never heard of it before)
"No, it's just a neighborhood where all the houses are smaller and a large population of midgets live there."
(Now I have to compete with the gawking tours of things not even on the map!)
I told them how I seemed to see an increase in my business here right after the Barbara Streisand Museum in California closed down......