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Duke of Darkness
01-21-2007, 06:15 PM
We are considering having a gift shop and/or haunted cafe/snack bar this year. How successful have you been been with either of these merchandising efforts? What types of items have you found sell well in your gift shop? How do t-shirts do? Collectibles? Posters, flags, etc? And what kind of food do you sell? What is popular? On the same note, what kinds of things have you tried to sell that have not worked?

Any and all advice on this subject greatly appreciated!

Dave

Jim Warfield
01-21-2007, 06:35 PM
I can't justify hiring a person to run a gift shop here, even on my busiest nights not really many people want to fork out more money after investing the 2 to 3 hours to drive here, ex cetra.
Previously on this site other haunt owners have commented about this subject of having a food stand and/or gift shop and many expressed the opinion that it may not be worth the investment and time spent away from your main income making enterprise, your haunt, but in this line of entertainment what works for one , may not work in another setting or part of the country........

Duke of Darkness
01-21-2007, 06:44 PM
I know of several haunts that have done fairly well in food sales, but in both cases they brought in outside vendors/food carts. I would still like to hear more of other's experiences in this area.

As far as gift shops, I have seen a few haunts that make an attempt at this type of merchandising, but I have honestly rarely seen it done well. It has, for the most part, seemed like a half hearted attempt or a throw away. I have been told that Castle Blood does very well with their gift shop, though I have not been there in person, so I could not say why they do so well or what types of things that they sell.

Anyway, I am looking forward to what others have to say on the subject. Thanks Jim.

Dave

Greg Chrise
01-22-2007, 12:13 AM
For the most part unless one of your offerings is something you do all year round the profit is slim. It requires routine performance to get good wholesale prices on things and you are limited in a seasonal venture to being able to only charge perhaps double the cost. So it really does come down to paying for the booth, the merchandise and how much it costs to man such a thing. Plus, there is more to running a succefull side business than just standing there feilding requests for consumerism.

It requires subtle pushing of items to turn a 50 cent sale into another $1.0purchased while sitting on a thousand dollars worth of stuff. Generally $500 in T-shirts will be a several year supply even at a 25,000 customer attraction. It might be such a thing as the T-shirts lose money but if anyone ever gets in their closet you have another customer.

$500 in glow sticks might sell in one night but the mark up is slim. Food is an entirely different affair as it might require health inspection compliance for equipment and processes. Small vendors that do face painting, sell masks, various toys tend to bail after one year and even during the season as other venues are so much more predictable.

Most attractions that do well with gift shops have the haunt exit dump right into the gift shop and some one telling them to look around and pick something out. Oh, it isn't part of the tour? It costs how much? Kind of a hard sell situation.

The only one I know of that has their own restaurant sees 60,000 and has a liquor liscence on a 56 acre park. At this same place all the gift stores are outside vendors in permanent looking facilities.

Everyone else from 800 to 30,000 customers has vendors paying $40 to $100 per spot per weekend or has things like the local PTA selling hot dogs and hot chocolate and cokes as a fund raiser for their own purposes.

The hearsay is that it brings in at best 1% of the total gross when attatched to a haunt and the big capital required to do these thing right would better be put into haunt detailing. The source someone over 1 million is ticket sales.

Certainly to some extent these activities are expected behavior at an event but I would not anticipate a profit.

In fact, Having all of these things even at a loss is part of the experience that bring fond memories and return customers from year to year. Some people buy something at a place just to use the bathroom.

It generally takes a customer base of 2,000 people per day to meet expenses. If only 1 in 10 actually patronize that is not enough. Or so I have been told by the big boys. So you can't have competing vendors either.

I would like to hear more about this too.

ScarlettP
01-22-2007, 06:29 AM
No first hand experiance on this one.

I DO know something that failed miserably! The first year the "Haunted Carnival" was in business, they tried to make a 'fair way' style waiting area with carnival games. That was just DREADFUL! For the most part, they didn't want to invest in 'on the site' prizes, so some of the games were to "Win a Gift certificate." :roll: Others were just to expenive to play and the prizes were not haunt related. It just didn't work.

Mr Nightmarez
01-22-2007, 06:39 AM
If you market it right - you can make money!
@ Ruby Falls we have a Green Screen and photographer. We have 3 to 4 backgrounds that can be selected and bought -
So they take the pic as they enter to pay and we corral them into the pay area as they exit to pick up the pictures and they have to walk through the T-s etc.

There was quite a bit of money made on pictures and Merchandise this season, since we based it off the "Theme Park" mentality. Drop them off in the gift shop corral.

We have done this in Memphis also and it works or doing combination buys - T and Ticket for a $5 discount when bought together. As for other items, we have sold glow necklaces as "Safety Device" the monsters won't scare the glow folk... yeah right and people actually buy them...

The picture idea has by far been the best I have seen. And of course food always does well if you have the access to do that.
:wink:

I have considered building a haunt in within my Spirit Halloween Store and dumping folk into the store, but I believe it would be more hassle than value. But I may try it at some point, as of now - I keep them separate!

ScarlettP
01-22-2007, 06:45 AM
KEN! You have a gift shop at the end of Dream Reapers. How does it normally do? I know WE have bought several things from you... Including the "It's Alive" baby puppet. I can't tell you how much FUN the boys had driving home playing with that thing in the window "attacking" other drivers.

virgil
01-22-2007, 07:31 AM
I am in the process of putting together
a special package for haunts that use
Virgil music called "The Sounds Of....".

CD's will be packaged with your haunt's
artwork on the cover and a special wholesale
price with orders as small as 10 CDs.

I'll have more on this special package deal
coming up.

Hopefully this will help you folks promote your
haunt by giving folks something to remember you
by!!!

Ken Spriggs
01-22-2007, 07:34 AM
Well we bought a trailer this year to be used as a concession stand.
Flipout side with power to it for the pizza warmers and stuff.

It paid for itself in 2 weekends.

The gift store thing......we have done it for 6 years now.
It all depends what you put in there to sell.

We always sell Bump in the Night...last year someone had a brain cramp and forgot to order the stuff....it always sells

Tshirts...we sell them too....
YTC skeleton stuff
Candy
Pop
Pizza
Handwarmers
Hoodies
The pics from Morbid

The key is not to gouge the customer....yes it is tempting to put a SPIRIT price on it...Sorry Todd....BUT you have 2-3 weeks to unload the product,
or back to storage it goes.

Small stuff if you have a kiddies place........little light up stuff

Empressnightshade
01-22-2007, 09:16 AM
I am in the process of putting together
a special package for haunts that use
Virgil music called "The Sounds Of....".

CD's will be packaged with your haunt's
artwork on the cover and a special wholesale
price with orders as small as 10 CDs.

I'll have more on this special package deal
coming up.

Hopefully this will help you folks promote your
haunt by giving folks something to remember you
by!!!
That's SWEEET, Virgil! And the fact that you have a small order package as well is keeping beginning haunts like mine in mind. Thank you!
We want in.

SomeThingInTheIce
01-22-2007, 03:22 PM
That is smart virgil, keeping it lto ten. I think you will get a lot more haunts in on it this way.

Kevin Dells
01-28-2007, 08:22 AM
Hey Gang finally back on board,been extremely busy!

At Screamfest we had a midway with carnival type games as someone already mentioned, it did a lot less sales than we anticipated. The best seller was Fry Freedie.(throw three balls at a target and if you hit the target Freddie gets fried) Hit it three times in a row and you get a t-shirt.(never happened!)

Back to the midway so i can explain something from another topic i just read about long lines. We didn't have q-lines,period! We used a ticket # system. When your ticket # came up on screen you went to a staging area( staging area held ten lines,one for each group and we would send them in 30 second intervals and faster if the crowd dictated it) Hence no 4 hour lines to stand in! Might stand in the midway for 4 hours but not ass to ass for 4 hours. We did allow people to leave and come back, if your # was 1000 away feel free to leave and come back,we already had your money so who cares. We had a movie theater that was next door often people would go see a flick and come back after,theater loved it and would cross promote with us on this!

The midway also had tables and chairs and widescreeen tv's so people could have a seat relax and watch movies.
As well we had our own people do the snack bar and yes we had to have them certified by the department of clean food. This did bring in good revenue, but we were very selective on the food as to good sellers.
We tried pizza from an outsource as we didn't have pizza ovens but it didn't make much money. Hot dogs,Chili dogs are good sellers. Initial purchase is cheap for hot dogs and you can sell them for a buck and a half.
A fall classic, Apple with Carmel bowl, sold ton's of these things for 2.50$ i can't tell you how many times we ran out of apples!

Gift shop we did not do well with and it was in the midway people would look for hours and still not buy and the t-shirts we sold for 12$ so we weren't asking a fortune for them. Theatrical contacts we sold hundreds of pairs,couldn't stock enough but then again it's a hard item to find for the consumers so they would buy those left and right at 60$ a set.
We even opened a store like Hot Topic and this was a total bomb, all of our actors ended up with the clothes as part of their styphon gift but hey we tried it!

Jim Warfield
01-28-2007, 08:39 AM
About 20 years ago when the teenagers were driving big old Buicks and Olds, some of them decided to have a friendly demolition derby in the parking lot infront of the Ravens Grin! (Talk about "Entertainment!")
They moved slowly (like O.J. in the Bronco) "C-r-u-n-c-h!"
Then they drug some tree limbs up from over the bluff and had a large bonfire, right on the asphaly (not good)
Our city Policeman on duty that night was one of those "Look-Away" guys that actually, physically turned his head when he saw this all happening, then slowly just drove away.
Our Chief of Police told me that the Demo-guys were guilty of "Public Endangerment" if parts would have flown off their cars and hit somebody or someone's car not playing their game.
He was NOT one to look away!
I have had some local wanna-be musicians want to have a nocturnal concert in this parking lot. I don't own the parking lot, the city does and since sound carries so well across the valley to the houses on the next hill...I can't see such a thing ever happening. I disconnected outdoor speakers years ago, wanting to be a good neighbor, avoiding unnecesarry hassles...although some barking dogs on that hill have made my late night rest difficult at times.......

Duke of Darkness
01-28-2007, 01:10 PM
Thanks Kevin,

There is some good information in you post. I have used a numbered ticket system on a small scale (a smaller theatrical attraction at a larger show), and it worked fairly well but did have its problems. I have been wondering if it would work well for a larger attraction, but have not yet experimented with it. It seems like it would only work well in a situation, like you created, where there were other entertainment (and revenue producing) activities for the guests while not standing in line.

If you would be willing to post or PM me more on your experiences with this system, I would appreciate it.

As far as food, I was considering pitching a deal to people that run vending carts. Since they are generally not on the streets in October (or in the evenings anyway) they might be interested in the opportunity to come out and sell food to the crowd. I was considering offering a deal in which we wouldn't charge them for the space, but they would feed our crew. Has anyone tried something like this?

Thanks guys. Keep it coming.

Dave

SomeThingInTheIce
01-28-2007, 01:33 PM
Thats a great idea Duke, I think someone on this board did post that they had done this. It would give you one less thing to deal with and not cost anything.

Kevin Dells
01-28-2007, 01:56 PM
Duke,
The system worked great and inbetween our ticket#s popping up we would run our sponsors ads so selling sponsorship was really easy,landed us Pepsi, Frito lays, and Papa Johns from it.
Keep in mind our midway was big enough to house a huge crowd but back then we had building to spare at 70,000 square feet,haunt taking up 50,000 of it and the rest was midway with a seperate area for rock bands to play.
(which they played for free, they begged us to play after they saw the stage we built,complete with Fog,lasers and a couple of air cannons underneath to blast the crowd with! Talk about skirts flying up!)
During the off season they actually payed us to rent our building for big concerts, we provided security was a must to protect our haunt of course but it worked really well and we had income coming in every month.

I have never seen this type of system until our place, i have to give Randy Daniels credit for implementing it. At first we all wondered if it wold work but the crowd was much more managable. Our worst complaint was it was to hot! If you even want to call that a complaint.

We only needed a few midway actors so more could man the actual house itself.
Bad points if we did it again was we would not make the VIP room part of the midway, people watching people eating free pizza really p!ssed them off!

Other than that i have to say as a manager and line actor i Loved it!

ClusterOne
01-29-2007, 02:28 AM
There was a really great article on merchandising in one of the recent Hauntworld magazines. It was featuring the Headless Horseman attraction in NY. Really great stuff, gave me lots of ideas.

SomeThingInTheIce
01-29-2007, 03:37 PM
There was a really great article on merchandising in one of the recent Hauntworld magazines. It was featuring the Headless Horseman attraction in NY. Really great stuff, gave me lots of ideas.
That was a very good article and it stated that they make more money from their food and merchandise then from the haunt it self. I guess its all in how you do it.

BrettBertolino
01-30-2007, 11:02 PM
Shot Glasses are always a big seller.

Jim Warfield
01-30-2007, 11:30 PM
My good Cellar glasses are all shot!

Greg Chrise
01-30-2007, 11:33 PM
Is that like an Elton John thing? a new fancy pair of glasses for each room performance?

Jim Warfield
01-30-2007, 11:48 PM
"Son, you're gunna drive me to drinking if you don't stop driving that hot rod Lincoln!"
Put a rubber nipple on my shot glass, I drink slow and don't want to spill a drop of it.
When I talk baby talk, stop serving me, put me to bed, with my Dolly.

Greg Chrise
01-30-2007, 11:55 PM
Good night Dolly...................

Mr Nightmarez
02-02-2007, 05:28 AM
The key is not to gouge the customer....yes it is tempting to put a SPIRIT price on it...Sorry Todd....BUT you have 2-3 weeks to unload the product,
or back to storage it goes.

Small stuff if you have a kiddies place........little light up stuff

Tell me about it... :shock:

But I totally agree. Ruby Falls wants to gouge for impulse buying. I try to work at lower profits (and I do give deals at the store for haunters)
but be honest and not gouge... :cry:

Sometimes I can't sleep at night - then I realize it's not me but Spencer's/Spirit Corporate doing the gouging! :wink: