View Full Version : I need to vent!!!

08-13-2007, 11:25 AM
We lost our location for this year!!! This is long, so forgive me, but I need to get this off my chest!!!

I am so angry. I have been working on a deal for our haunted house since January of '07. When I found a location that I liked, I contacted the owner's of the building (a very large firm that owns buildings all over the South East). We initially contacted them in February. They said they were very interested so we sent them a proposal in April.

The building in question happened to be an old Walmart. Now, the actual Walmart (store) part of building was entirely too big so we only needed the Garden Center side of the space. We made our intentions known to the owners. We also asked if we could use the old auto center as a spot for our makeup and greenroom for the actors. We were told that would be ok. We even sent them a DVD of our past work so they could view it and see unequivocably, what it is that we are looking to do. Not a tent in a parking lot, not a haunted forest, not a corn maze, but an indoor seasonal haunted attraction. How difficult is that?

We checked back to make sure they had recieved it and they said it looked fine. told them exactly what we wanted, how much we wanted to pay, etc. I was told everything looks good. We would be in contact from then on.

Now, at no point during this transaction from April till July, did they ever say there was a problem with the amount we were looking to pay, or restrictions on the building use, problems understanding our proposal etc. Again same line of corporate b.s. : everything looks good. No problem!

We contact them back and after playing weeks of phone tag we get all the info set to start our lease. Right off the bat they hit us with a price increase of $1200 above what we were already willing to pay. We reluctantly agreed becuase 1) We needed the space and 2) We thought they were throwing in the use of the auto center as well.

Then they sent us the lease. We were ready to sign and get the check off in the mail when we noticed a few things that struck us as odd. They had told us utilities would be included since we were a temporary lease, however our contract showed that they were not included and still would be our responsibility. Also, we noticed that they did not color in the area of the map that included the indoor portion of the garden center, which is what we were going to lease. On top of everything else they wanted us to give them a gross annual sales report of all our traffic and ticket sales.

Calling them back with a few questions about the copies we were sent, they were astonished that we wanted to rent the indoor portion of thier building. We never once told them we were producing an outdoor event. Then everything got ugly. We went back and forth. This delayed us getting in the building on time. Then when we finally get everything straightned out, they told us we would have to pay to have their building re-key'd becuase they did not want us to be in the main portion of the Walmart. That was just fine with us becuase they were taking it off the rent (the locksmith bill) and we didn't need in portion of the space anyway.

Flash forward. We jump through hoops and have the building re-keyed. We are finally ready to go ahead and sign the lease. Then suddenly, they restrict us to one portion of the building refusing to give us the auto center. Now citing that it's too great a liability. Hello? Could you not have checked that before we are already a week behind being in our space. We would have looked for another building all together.

Now we are struck in only the garden center, which we wanted, but it has no running water or bathrooms. Now, I'm not the smartest person in the world but when someone tells me I'm getting utilities for free that usually means electric and water (being utilities plural and not utility, singular). How in the heck are we supposed to be in a building with no access to running water? No way that would pass inspection and no bathrooms for use to use.

Then the @$$ clown who has been telling us everything sounds great suddenly starts to show his true colors and will not allow us any access to another part of the building to have running water or a bathroom. He actualy becomes angry with me when I tell him that won't work for us. He then irrately points out that he is out $1K dollars becuase they had to have their sprinkler system inspected. Pardon, me but isn't i the property owners responsibility to bring everything current if they want to lease it?

We lose an entire years operating profits, expenses we've already paid for, marketing, website, and he's worried about a measly $1,000. Thank god we never signed the lease and went forward.

On top of all this I finally talk to my partners and they say the deal is off. I politely email him, going so far as to even thank him for his time. I explained very politely that we with all the restrictions now imposed we could not operate there. I also mentioned that it would have been nice if during all these problems someone would have either metioned that this deal would not work at the particular building or suggested perhaps, an alternate location that we could have looked at.

Then (and this is just the icing on the cake) the guy goes postal. He starts calling my cell phone 3 times and telling me he has serious issues with my email. He then demands that I call him at his office. I was already hot, but I just ignored it. Then he leaves me another threatning email at the end of the day saying if I don't get back to him before 5'oclock his time to discuss this email that we would never be allowed to do buisness with his company again. Hello! Mentally unbalanced, part of one....you're table's waiting. What part of we don't want to buisness with you do you not understand?

I couldn't believe it. So now here we are stuck without opening and wasting the better part of a year. Talk about sucking!

I know, I know...there's always next year everyone says. Somehow that's not very consoling during the present. I guess I'll go check out Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando.

Next year, I'm hiring a real estate agent to do all this for us!!!


08-13-2007, 12:36 PM
Wow, that's plenty of red tape.....the owner's probably pissed because he just lost a lease and a chance to raise the rent once he reads your profit analysis report at the end of the operating month....one question, though...in all of your early correspondance with him, and all of his/her "ok, no problems", did you ever get it in writing from their end of the deal on what exactly was to be included, or anyone's signature as to the original "agreement" besides the lease? Did you get any money back from them?? In my experience, once the "powers that be" get wind that there will be a profitable (but seasonal) operation at their location, they tend to "raise the bar" on what they want to lease to you...that's why everything needs to be on paper from day one...no confusion, no misinterpretations, etc...glad you're not doing business with them, though...it would have gotten even uglier as the season progressed....they sound like a bunch of "split personalities" to me - too shady...

Kudos and good luck to you...

08-13-2007, 01:27 PM
Well that's the problem. We put our intentions on paper quite clearly for them from the get go. We took it on their word that when we got the lease we'd sign it. When they finally put pen (or pc) to paper for the lease everything started to change. Then it became a negotiating game.

It has been the most miserable business dealings I have ever encountered. Not to mention all the stuff I didn't put in my message like their local property manager arriving at two different meetings 20 minutes late each time, then yelling at us. Never having phone calls returned, being berated by the Development Manager at the leasing company, etc.

Fortunately, we had not purchased our insurance or paid any amount of rent to them yet, so we weren't out a ton of money. Just what we had already put into the haunt to open in supplies, etc.

Good thing is I'll never do buisness with their company.

So now, we're displaced haunters.

08-13-2007, 01:34 PM
Wow that sucks...at least the guys around here just said no!! I tried to rent part of an old Kmart and they wouldn't give me the time of day

08-13-2007, 06:18 PM
Sorry to hear all of this, I hope things work out. Enjoy HHNs it's a awsome event and it will take your mind off of it. I'm heading down there the last weekend of Sept.

08-13-2007, 09:21 PM
For whatever it is worth, I feel your pain. Last year I had my city shut me down Sept 8th! I thougt it was the end of the world, but you know, sometimes things happen for a reason. I was able to secure a better location and open after all and the location I was going to be in I would have grown out of in two years.

Now last Sept 8th was a real low point, but I learned a few things. 1) I have a kick ass core group that busted their rear ends so I could open 2) If needed to I can think on my feet pretty well 3) I have a bunch of great friends on this board that sent me their sympathies and well wishes 4) I have a bunch of friends in the industry that offered to help me out. Shawano Manor in GreenBay offered me an area at their property to build MY haunt on, Terror On The Fox, offered a place for my actors to work at, and Rockfor Screamfest in IL, (A good 3 hrs from me) were packing their trucks with props I could use for free and they were even gonna road trip up to help me do a blitz build.
Now I tell you this as a message to you to not give up and keep the faith. Sometimes you can make lemonaide out of lemons

08-13-2007, 11:42 PM
WoW! That is terrible news. They don't sound like good peole to do business with anyways, your probably better off anyways. Enjoy HHN and may next year be easier for you.


08-14-2007, 08:33 AM
I'm very sorry to hear about the troubles you & your crew are having. That really sucks. It sounds like you tried your hardest to tip them off to exactly what you wanted to do and how you wanted to do it.

We've never had any luck when contacting groups who've owned buildings that were former Wal-Marts/K-Marts, etc. Matter of fact, the space that we were in (and other haunts prior to us) for years was owned by the local mall, but was previously a Safeway. The other was an old hardware store that was privately owned.

I wish you all the best in whatever it is that you decide to do this season, whether it's going to HHN, or working for another haunt in your area, or just scaring the crap out of the neighbors. If I could give you a big hug, I would!

(Man, if we could all just hit the lottery and get permanent places for our haunt families....*sigh*)

damon carson
08-18-2007, 11:01 AM
Sorry to hear about all your troubles. And yes theres always next year isnt very consoling is it?! Im still laughing about the Hello Mentally unstable party of one your tables waiting! Thats great! Reminds me of some people I know. Hold your head up just think all the work you accomplished this year with this coming year can make your next show all the greater!

Raycliff Manor
08-21-2007, 12:42 PM
Lee, I guess this all transpired after your PM to me. Wow, sorry to hear the terrible news. I can say this though, it seems that those of us who have these nightmare experiences and stick with the manifestiation of our dreams seem to come out on higher ground. Can I get an amen Ron?!?! Don't give up my friend. Our first year almost put me 10 feet under, but the passion just wouldn't die. ; ) There are much better days ahead and you really are better off for not having gotten into a contract with these people. It would only have gotten worse, Craig's right. Let me know if there's anything we can do to help...


Mr. Haunt
08-21-2007, 01:19 PM
I am sorry to hear that your location fell through. It sounds like you had put a lot of work to reach your goal on a building and location. It also showed that you and your partner(s) had been flexable. Things can get ugly. Maybe contact a Fire Dept. or a local youth group to do a smaller scaled haunt for this fall. It is better then nothing. I know that you worked very hard on that building space.

Mybe work with your Lawyer might also help with dotting and crossing of the letters when working out a deal with a potential leaser.

I gain I am sorry that this has happend to your haunt this year.