View Full Version : Economy hurting haunts?

03-01-2011, 11:51 PM
Hey everyone,

As ya'll have seen by past posts I've been interested in a starting a professional haunt in AZ for a while. Here's a few of the questions I do have about the industry (A lot have been answered by Kelly Allen's book, great BTW).

1) Is the haunt industry being hurt by the state of the economy at all?

2) Is there anyone with knowledge of haunts in AZ? I've worked at one for a few years here in AZ and visited most. However, I'm seeing multiple going out of business, moving, etc. Is it worth the time to take a haunt the has closed and attempt to re-open it? Or has it most likely closed for a reason.

Thanks everyone! Look forward to picking your brains.

Soul Reaper
03-02-2011, 12:09 AM
I do not know if the economy has hurt any haunts much yet, but I do know people will pay money to be entertained. I was the Director of Operation for one in 08 and 09 and seen the sale go up for that haunt.

As for AZ I am not familiar with that area so hopefully someone can answer that question for you.
But if a haunt has closed check into it and ask around and find out why before purchasing it to reopen. It may have close because they did not fully know how to run a haunt or may have been closed by the fire marshall for some reason or could have just not been the best location for it. If the building was lease it may have sold out from under them. Just make sure you find out why it closed before jumping on buy one that had closed.

Jim Warfield
03-02-2011, 10:16 AM
Realise you may be also "purchasing" the last guy's reputation, good or bad. Might pay you to ask around first.
"That's the place where they grope all the women!"
"That's where those people got beat up in the alley."
Of course you could just put up a huge flashing sign saying "Under New Mis-Management!"! hahahaha!

chuck weber
03-02-2011, 03:26 PM
all of this gasoline price crap will be over by the haunt season. at $5.00 a gallon (projected) people WILL NOT drive as much. this was proven before. I know alot of people like to take road trips to haunts ( I used to be one of them) at least 100 miles from philly area to other haunts is what I used to do. just so you know, in Venezuela, gasoline is .25 cents a gallon. too bad there are probably not that many haunts there.

03-02-2011, 04:03 PM
Im Sure the Economy isnt helping the Industry. Years ago I believed that the Haunt Industry was recession proof, that people still needed to get out and have a good time and seeing how Haunted Houses was a seasonal event, they made the decision to do so, Now a days, I dont think its that easy, the big killer being GAS prices on the rise and people already strapped for money, are having to put that extra 40-50 dollars a week into their tank to get to work.
Looks like I picked the wrong time to open my Haunt.. :) our first year was when the bottom fell out of the economy doubled by we had the coldest winter here in ages. Second year, economy was still in the tank and we got hit with swine flue epidemic scare and RAIN every weekend , our third year was best by far with beautiful weather and the economy still in the tank. Michigan has the worst unemployment ratings of the nation I believe, but people are still getting out and having a good time.

freak 'n' stein
03-02-2011, 04:47 PM
...plain and simple, we've seen increases every year. As stated before, people will pay to be entertained! hahahaha

Jim Warfield
03-02-2011, 05:51 PM
Fighting another haunt just down the road to get those "Fan" customers...because the other customers are hard-up, or really weren't that much into all of our passions here or were just out seeing Haunts for the social aspect and now they just don't have the money to spend on anything except rent and food and gasoline to get to work...?
Today my bookkeeper said something like:"But they still have $20 to spend on a big pizza!"
I was going to tell her I think my biggest competition on a year-long basis is the teenager who paid $5.00 for that can of beer rather than bring himself and his girlfriend out to see my house. (You can legally buy beer around here almost cheaper than pop.)
How many, what percentage of Haunt fans, customers see more than one in a season? Do any of you see this number of rabid , money-spending enthusiasts shrinking any lately?
If it has declined, shrunk, then what? Now will we be fighting to entice that smaller number of ticket-buyers into our places, just to remain in this business? Could be?
What do you think?

Greg Chrise
03-03-2011, 09:24 PM
I have no idea what it is like in Arizona but usually when there is a dramatic down turn or crappy economy haunts still do well. I don't know what is up with the haunts that may be closing.

Sometimes haunts go out of business and it isn't for lack of customers or the potential customers scratching together their net worth of $15 for one last desperate search for entertainment.

Haunt people get into this with the wrong idea of how to have a sustainable business, they get too many partners that expected so much more and discovered there is a whole lot of physical and mental work. They can't pay to have everything done or if they do the debt bills catch up with them and everyone bails. I really hate to use the word haunt people in this statement but, there have been a whole lot of consultants that really hadn't any real personally successful business done by themselves to use as a reference on how to run any business. The people that are successful aren't after consulting fees. The people that are successful aren't trying to write a book to tell you how to be their competition. The people that are successful are wondering what they have after 15 years or more not proclaiming themselves to be a genius after one year with an open haunt. The successful people got the money from the ticket proceeds, they aren't in court trying to get paid.

So many things can go wrong. At the end of every year everyone wants their money and then there isn't enough for the following seasons advertising to be done properly with out adding even more investors. Even a landlord can go belly up in a crisis and the only way to save the day is to be able to pay cash for a million dollar property or sell the whole thing.

Arizona is one of those places that 5 years ago everyone was building residential and commercial realestate like crazy and now if you pay attention to the media it has thousands of unsold houses out on the desert that is some kind tragedy. Still this probably is only 1% of how the Arizona economy really works but the media has to get the big negative story out there.

Entertainment wise, there are only so many hours you can watch of TV even with so many channels before you are caught up for about 2 years worth. You can actually reach the end of the internet with new things being written about in news articles and blogs, You can see all 1 or 2 movies a year that really hold an intrest and conquer that 50 hour of PS3 games and then you have to wait 4 years for the next one. So when haunt season rolls around customers are compelled to go see them because they had exhausted every other media and spent all those entertainment dollars to experience a euphoria and then a big let down when there was nothing else to do. You have to be great at telling people you exist. Anyone can spend money but only a few have leaned how to make money.

All kinds of other factors can change in an organization. People or partners die. People get too old and lose some faculties or the will to work so hard. People end up with heavy family responcibilities that take up lots of time or more money that every existed in the world and the first thing people do is sell their business and assets. Or their liabilities. Sometimes the wrong people decide they are incharge and run it into the ground. Selling may be the only way everyone gets paid for years and years of real work. Unfortunately most of these sell outs require outrageous sums of cash to buy out or few years later end up in an auction to pay for storage expense due.

If you haven't already operated successfully for years and gone through a sell out, or already have existing operations that this would be added to, that might cover unseen expenses, it would be tough to dive onto a place that is closing and do it right. Inexperienced take over artists seem to sell off lots of stuff with out replacing things for cash to make it happen but really needed the things they sold off to make it as good or better to the next customers.

I just thought I would write a little to make sure I don't have a brain tumor.

Jim Warfield
03-03-2011, 09:45 PM
The rumor of your brain tumor stikes me as humor.
Blow your nose, brush those teeth
pull up your toilet, see whats underneath
Put it back before
The little room goes black
Hook both dogs up to your bed
Tell them it's their personal "Meat-Sled"
As they pull you downtown
They may notice no rotting "Brown"
Then you all have a laugh
Slaughtering the fatted calf
Calve's blood on six lips
Now begin the clever quips
Unbalancing the psychs
On their over-priced bikes
They shoulda got deals
on adult balancing wheels
If a rumor of a tumor makes you gloomer
let half-a-laugh
Become your staff
and mood-groomer
Stick yourself alongside the head
Fall backwards into bed
Sleep like logs
Wake up with dogs
Do as you please
Don't mail me any fleas.

Greg Chrise
03-04-2011, 06:19 PM
That could be a wrap song! Wonder what the chorus would be>


Jim Warfield
03-05-2011, 12:22 AM
The watered down version?

chuck weber
03-05-2011, 04:39 PM
Wipe out this haunt season. It's over, johnny....................people have to drive. People wont have $$ to go to haunts. Let's pray for a turn around by september.... Please!!!!

Jim Warfield
03-05-2011, 11:54 PM
Does have alot of people close by and mass transportation systems. The rest of us away from this need to drive many miles everyday for almost everything. When I lived just 3 miles outside of town, I would still end up driving 45 miles a week!
We are 25 and 35 miles from a Wal-Mart-Menards, Farm & Fleet and just about every other store or nicer restaurant you could care to name.
For me, drivng a mini-car to gain a 35 MPG advantage is no advantage if the car is too small to carry much or is so flimsey and small as to become a quickly folding coffin upon any impact.

Dark Scares
03-06-2011, 01:32 AM
Phill, As we were the new kid on the block this year in the Phoenix, AZ area. I have to tell you that we did well, but of course we would always like to do better, and we learned a lot about what to do, and not to do. The haunts in our area are busy, however I don't think anyone can truly understand till they have experienced it themselves the amount of money and commitment it takes to open a haunt, and keep it running year after year. You most likely are not going to make a profit or very little your first year. We were lucky enough to be able to finance our haunt ourselves so we had no obligations to repay a business loan. But I suspect that there are a lot of haunts that don't figure their financial commitments well, and soon find themselves in over their heads, this having very little to do with the economy.
What ever you decide it is a amazing experience, and I can wait for this season. Good Luck to you and let me know if I can answer any questions.