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Thread: how did you start your haunt??

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  1. Default After Much Struggling 
    #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2003
    Location
    Ravens Grin Inn, 411 carroll st.mount carroll ill.
    Posts
    12,840
    And finally finding two private backers who together loaned me less than $7,000, a girl just out of high school wanted me to advise her how she and her friends could get.. "Oh, maybe something like $800,000.oo handed to them because they had a movie they wanted to make!"
    The real world of financial things can be a bitch but floating around in pure sugary sweet fantasyland doesn't get anything done either!
    I read on here several years ago the Small Business Administration will not loan $ to Haunts because they are a seasonal business and they only want to hand out a few million $ to people who will employ ALOT of people, full time.
    Loan officers in banks don't know much often times and are unwilling to risk their job to "learn" what they should not have loaned money towards.
    Besides the advice all ready given here all that I would say is look for a person who bucked the system and the nay-sayers and did something totally "crazy", but it worked, made them alot of money, they will have the money to loan you and have the mindset to see it as a real possibility of working.
    This is what happened for me.
     

  2. Default  
    #12
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    229
    I thank you guys for helping me in this little weird world of ours..



    I know that i am not going to get the money I WANTED but I just need some money to get me going. I have talked to some investors before and with todays economy some sayed no.. I asked them why? and they said time are hard right now... I said to myself...dam....

    now with the space i really need to start, I can look in other spaces but the one i look for was the best one and it's the best place in my town right now. It's more like 19 aces than i thought.. sorry..

    I have keep in mind about how all the little things work to the big thing in life too. When i was in 9th grade. I took a class and knew i wanted to do this for the rest of my school life and that was Drama class. Then 10th grade came and I got in to tech thater. Now that was the best time of my life!! That same year i got to start my first job and it was working at a haunted house!!! From then on I did learn every thing from props to sets to making that dam home made blood... you all know what i am talking about..anyways, so I have learned the in's and out's of a haunt and learned what goes on in it. So far right now i am the trainer for new actors at this place. I have had fun over the years and it's been good to me.

    Now, I see that some people has had it better than others and some others has had it ok. But some of you guys started back in the late 80's and early 90's. That's went jobs were doing ok and you can start a haunt for less then $5,000. now if i was at my age now and go back then that would be cool. But the sad part is that I am trying to open one in a bad time.. But is it all ways a bad time in the US??? I have tried to talk to some people about this little idea and showed them the papers. Give them the hole speech talk how cool it is to run with it. As a 24 year old kid live in Idaho has it's ups and downs too. Like netherworld and sceam house and others to name a few. All them are on the east side and i am in the north west. So you don't hear as much haunted house up here... I have done my homework and seen some other haunts. Been doing the behide the scenes thing when i first started there when i was 16 years old.

    I don't know how to get the money in my hands right now. Even if it's just a small. I'll take it and i can do a lot with it. I can fine a way to make it. Build it and even find a way to use duck tape as a part of my tools!!!!!! I love duck tape.. sorry..

    any ways I hope you can see what i know and this will be my labor of love.

    HG
     

  3. Default  
    #13
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    1,036
    You're gonna have to start small. Too many haunters (and business owners in general) take the "all or nothing approach."

    Whittle your costs down to nothing. Forget that huge piece of land that you can't afford. You might as well be looking at an empty WalMart in a high-traffic location if you can't afford it. Find something that the owner will be willing to donate for a few weeks. Go in with a charity so you can use their name. That also makes it easier to get free advertising.

    Forget buying animatronics and expensive costumes at TransWorld. Not going to happen anytime soon. Like others have said: trash dumpsters, yard sales, thrift stores.

    Get a part-time job in addition to your regular job, and put the extra money towards the haunt. Leverage your money. Maybe you can take the few bucks you have and put it into something that will bring you greater returns: selling refurbished computers, refinished furniture, learning to fix small dents in cars, something that people value that you can do cheap.

    Find others who are just as passionate as you to help. Maybe one of them might have a relative willing to put up some money, or with enough of you chipping in small amounts you can make it work.

    Getting a couple of big investors or sponsors would be great. But as Jim said, it's probably not going to happen. Something I learned a long time ago is that wealthy people got that way by being careful with their money. Everyone thinks a rich guy is the one to hit up for a loan or investment. Not true. He's too smart to give you his money for a crazy idea like a haunted house.

    The other thing about starting small is that it's easier to make back your investment. You very well may not even gross your $70,000 investment the first year, much less net it. Then what do you tell your investor on November 1st?
     

  4. Default  
    #14
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    76
    hammer, nails, and a negative checkbook!
     

  5. Default  
    #15
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    229
    Quote Originally Posted by shawnc View Post
    You're gonna have to start small. Too many haunters (and business owners in general) take the "all or nothing approach."

    Whittle your costs down to nothing. Forget that huge piece of land that you can't afford. You might as well be looking at an empty WalMart in a high-traffic location if you can't afford it. Find something that the owner will be willing to donate for a few weeks. Go in with a charity so you can use their name. That also makes it easier to get free advertising.

    Forget buying animatronics and expensive costumes at TransWorld. Not going to happen anytime soon. Like others have said: trash dumpsters, yard sales, thrift stores.

    Get a part-time job in addition to your regular job, and put the extra money towards the haunt. Leverage your money. Maybe you can take the few bucks you have and put it into something that will bring you greater returns: selling refurbished computers, refinished furniture, learning to fix small dents in cars, something that people value that you can do cheap.

    Find others who are just as passionate as you to help. Maybe one of them might have a relative willing to put up some money, or with enough of you chipping in small amounts you can make it work.

    Getting a couple of big investors or sponsors would be great. But as Jim said, it's probably not going to happen. Something I learned a long time ago is that wealthy people got that way by being careful with their money. Everyone thinks a rich guy is the one to hit up for a loan or investment. Not true. He's too smart to give you his money for a crazy idea like a haunted house.

    The other thing about starting small is that it's easier to make back your investment. You very well may not even gross your $70,000 investment the first year, much less net it. Then what do you tell your investor on November 1st?


    I think what i am going to do first here is to some of my firends to see if they want to do this..

    I'll go with that for right now. all I can get back at this time is a NO...
    oh, the one good thing is that if i do get this place i have been looking at will be an old junk yard. the other place i have look at its about 45,000 ft. that's also parking lot too. I don't know i have to put the places on hold intell i know that i can get them in my hands first.

    HG
     

  6. Default  
    #16
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Northwestern Pennsylvania
    Posts
    534
    Okay, I'll lay it all out for you from our perspective.
    We started small. We had years and years of acting experience for the local Lions Club haunt.
    We bought their stuff for cheap when they gave it up and stored it.
    Well, 2 years ago we were able to find a Fire Dept. that let us use their pavilion (1500 sq. ft. about). We dealt with the weather and 'roof' blowing off in places and reattaching it. But it worked. We were able to get volunteers and insurance and all that and spend less than 2,000 dollars! I know...shocking.
    But we had an okay turnout that actually made more than we spent and we put that aside for last year. We found a building that the owner worked off a percent of the door and here we are in year 3. Going to be our best year yet...since last year we did over 400 percent the first year for more money per person. Since our location is just under 5,000 sq. ft.
    Still no animatronics or expensive props...although we did buy Claustrophobia for this year!
    There you have it!

    Kirk
    DARK DOMAIN HAUNTED HOUSE
    www.darkdomainhauntedhouse.com
     

  7. Default  
    #17
    Join Date
    Apr 2005
    Location
    Ennis, TX.
    Posts
    108
    I started as a garage haunter 9 years ago. Little by little I built up my props, more volunteers and experience doing all the other stuff required to run a haunt. I am still learning and by no means any kind of expert. After a few years in the garage we moved into a "barn" with a field next door for parking.
    You can find others in your area to help by posting in the news paper. Try calling your local news paper to see if they have a "community focus" type section. Its like a "whats going on this month" list that is free. Usually they list bingo games and volunteer fire department fund raiser and the likes.

    tell them to post something like:
    new local haunt is looking for others who love Halloween and Haunted Houses and is hosting a hot dog cook out for those who would like to come see what its all about and help out.

    Also if you do get to start small, build your wall panels in modular sections so that you can move from one building to the next very easily. lease on a building year round will kill your profits. you could even do the tent in the parking lot gig. Leonard Pickles Mayhem Manor is a great example.

    sorry, I'm rambing... what were we talking about?
     

  8. Default  
    #18
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Fairmont, WV
    Posts
    80
    The beginning.

    My haunt started in 1987. I was 12 and too old to trick or treat so I made a small scene in my parents yard. Every year I added something new until 2003. My sister helped recruit a few people and along with my friends we experimented. We did not charge admission, but asked for donations. This was what we called the experiment. In only a three days we had over 100 guests. It was not huge, but it was enough.

    The business.

    After the experiment and 5,000.00 out of pocket expenses, the haunt became a business. Our main attraction is a 2,800 square foot maze. It is the beginning of the trail (built on my folks' farm) and is made of 2x4s and pallets. Creativity is more important than money. We get free mulch from the company that does tree trimming in the area. My actors all work for the love of the season, and Mom cooks dinner for everyone. Last year as I was working late into the night, my girlfriend walked over to me and asked,

    "Do you ever wonder if anyone that visits realizes it's just you, a few pieces of scrap wood, some friends, and a dream?"

    The truth is, it is the dream. That is what keeps us going, all of us. It is just the dream.
    . . . Experience the Agony
     

  9. Default  
    #19
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Location
    Oregon
    Posts
    21
    What are people's average operating costs (including insurance, advertising, actors, etc)?
    - Jordan
     

  10. Default  
    #20
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Posts
    1,036
    Quote Originally Posted by phrase View Post
    We get free mulch from the company that does tree trimming in the area.

    Someone has to ask: What do you do with the mulch?
     

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