View Full Version : make to sell or not?

07-31-2012, 05:52 PM
I have a question/ concern: I want to try to get my toes wet in the haunted industry by starting to decorate the outside of my apartment and field with decorations and stuff to make trick or treating more exciting (family friendly) for the neighborhood kids. Granted, I'm only going this route because I can't scare kids the way I want to. (sucks!) I'm going to make fun firefly jars (glitter and glow stick) that will hang from trees and be in the surrounding area as part of the theme. I want to make and sell little half pint firefly jars to kids (through their parents) for $1. Are there any legal things I need to watch out for??? Like taxes, the fact that the mason jars are glass, the fact that I even want to sell something like this?? Anything helpful would be appreciated!

Also, I'm doing this to get a feel and start for what's it's like to turn a profit. One of the best ways to start a haunted attraction/ business is to start at home and I want to start this year. Start small and work my way up.

08-01-2012, 03:04 AM
I think a great place to start would be to volunteer at a local child friendly non profit haunt. There is so much to learn and so much fun!
In time, see if the Charity will let you sell the jars ( I would try to find plastic ) and split the revenue. Are these the jars with a broken glow stick inside that you carry like a little lantern? I've seen them, I think kids would love them.

Greg Chrise
08-01-2012, 08:48 AM
Instead of getting your toes wet, I would suggest rubber boots and then a second set of sensible shoes.

08-02-2012, 12:48 AM
Instead of getting your toes wet, I would suggest rubber boots and then a second set of sensible shoes.

Always on about the sensible shoes . . .


Allen H
08-02-2012, 10:37 PM
I would not recommend trying to sell something to Trick or treaters. They are there to recieve free candy. It is a bait and switch set up when you try to sell them something.
Allen H

08-03-2012, 11:25 PM
... yeah. Allen's right man. Exactly a bait and switch. NOW, if you were to do what Wellinton said, try volunteering and going from there, maybe you can sell some at the haunt and see how that goes.

My next thought would be to make a bunch, and sell on ebay or something. I dont' know how that'd work but you could try I suppose. Better than sittin on the couch watchin sitcoms.

+1 +1 +1 +1 +1 and more on the plastic! I would NOT do glass at all. Just my opinion.


08-04-2012, 05:14 AM
You could also test things out at a craft fair, especially a Fall craft fair that would be a lead in for Halloween. With Halloween only a month or so after the fair, the fair goers will be thinking of how to decorate for Halloween, or thinking of fun activities for the kids.


08-04-2012, 08:02 AM
Our home haunt was free for 10 years before we started taking donations for charity's for the last 4 years there before moving to a pumpkin patch/corn maze ranch where we now have a professional haunt.

Greg Chrise
08-04-2012, 12:25 PM
As you have spent the past few years training in fine arts, there are a number of avenues to get into. Decorating your apartment and field can be a wonderous thing if you put the time into it. If these glowy jars can be made for under a dollar I would find the children that are captivated by them and just hand them one. It would be the experience to remember all the way to the nursing home.

As far as making a profit, not sure what that is. Immediately if your display is unique you will have other neighbors wanting things for their own, just like it was art for sale. People will pay $100 to help them decorate their apartments and you hear of the occasional apartment complex that has a competition for decorating and pays $500 first prize. So people will spend $100 to be super competative for your services. All the props you made the first year are something that can now go out into the real world and visually stimulate others. It is a bigger more long term magic before actual profit is reached. Keeping ahead of materials money is easy to achieve by selling and making things custom even in a residential setting.

Then also using more traditional art skills you could be into the art card trading market where you trade or sell little hand painted cards on ebay to the tune of $1 to $5. Then there is art squared markets also on ebay. If you feel it just stick to a Halloween theme and hand draw, pastel, paint in acrylic, watercolor and oils on different little objects or panels and get global with it. So this money becomes your decorating budget. Then you set up some rules that you are going to hand fashion everything rather than hit some big box store for decorations. Generally paintings of Halloween cats and pumpkins seem to be hot. Things a real artist can put 6 blanks in front of them and draw in 30 seconds and paint each step on each one in a minute and make some dynamic designs with cool colors 6 of them in half an hour. Real people might spend 3 hours on that one little panels that cost $10 to buy and only be able to charge $5 for it. An artist takes a found object and paints it to a tremendous quality in about 2 minutes and so you are making $5 every 2 minutes. Lets say each piece really takes 10 minutes by the time you scrape the original panel to throw the final sealer on.

You do one step then go to another piece and let it dry rather than you are expecting to get paid for 15 minutes letting something dry. Or rather being disappointed that some little 8 inch square painting didn't pay you $375 because that is how much time you had in it. 10 minutes, $5 value, 6 pieces in an hour sitting is $25 per hour. The gain is only diminished by how long it takes to wrap something and list it on ebay or craigslist and get it to the post office.

Any of your yearly display can be sold in just such a fashion. As can be costume elements and masks even become collectable at all levels. It just depends on getting that fine arts look or folksy look. People want because they have met the artist and not imagining some chinese village pooping in a ditch sweating made this for 50 cents and then some fat shipping guy brought it to wally world or some place like peir one for the consumer and there are thousands of these little things in everyone's homes so how special is that. Happy Halloween ignorant american consumers.

Your home display is more of a happening, something that in photos can be shared on the internet as well and so you have an audience of your hand fashioned things that might actually be of art quality to thousands instead of the 100 people at the apartment complex that might wonder about your use of your free time. All of it is only a calling card, a big show room of samples, a conversation piece. Similar to if you do an art show, people will ask if you can do a painting of their grandfathers cottage in oil to be a gift for someone. Sure whip out a photo! HAnd me money! See you next Tuesday! Bring more money then!

All the stupid things in the store had been designed by somebody somewhere. Every seasonal post card, every little ceramic trinket, every halloween jewelry piece, every wall hanging thing made out of foam and cheese cloth actually had someone make the first one. All of these smaller things are like developing the look that might be one of these things or a whole series of things. Coloring books, stickers, toys etc. Your investment is in demonstrating the look and your capabilities and communicating this with the world or staying underground and being selective in who you are willing to deal with.

Your capabilites are just what you enjoy doing. There are 14 year old girls making jewelry with their school friends turning 5 million dollars and retiring to go to college. There are 15 year old girls making sparkly designs for the internet making $70,000 per year and in comparison, I can get 45 people together and detail 5,000 SF built and painted from scratch, have it completely themed out and detailed. I can come in with a crew that knows what to do and are being paid, all the equipment needed, spray rigs and hoppers and trailers and $1000 seems to be a lot of money. So I'm getting the idea that I might have just been financially screwed from the start not being a 14 year old girl ever in my life. Making things at a scale that in the end pays $25 to $35 per hour can be done. It may take a few years of investing in the prototypes, sketches and maquettes. Culling out designs where you may have had to do 20 of something to get a good look or perhaps the first one was intuitively wonderous. A small gathering is certainly the best way to figure out what is good and what people unfortunately have been trained to expect in things made by hand.

YOur apartment open house for halloween might become how you get into a conversation and sell some other painting you did right off your wall. The actual trick or treat night or even small halloween party is just a conversation piece to bigger things that go or $100 or $300. Either making things, selling what you already made or decorating for some party that will happen only one night but the people have lots of money. Then you get into organizations that have lots of money to promote something then into the entire customer base of a haunted house is paying you some percentage of the ticket price. Quite frankly I miss the making part and probably made more money at that stage per year.

A few ice picks to the brain and people will by shit no matter what it looks like because they feel sorry for me. Maybe, I'm not sure yet. Hitting the wrong place and I might not be able to post things on ebay or getting my people to do it will be a turn off because of too much slobering for as much money as they make.