View Full Version : Halloween Parties / Prop Rentals "how to"

11-18-2008, 06:59 PM
I've read that some haunters rent out their props and fx to high-end Halloween parties during years when they're not running their haunt. Do any of you who have experience with this have advice for someone who'd like to do the same? Did you just rent your props, or did you do the set-up/tear-down yourself as well? What kind of pricing structure did you use? Is it worth the wear-and-tear on your props? Did any of you do a full "show" as part of the rental? I'm curious about how the whole rental party scene works. Anyone know of reference materials related to this?

Thank you for your time!

11-18-2008, 08:03 PM
speak to rob at bodybag, he seems to have had some experience with this.

Jim Warfield
11-19-2008, 01:32 AM
I know a guy who helped build the decorations for a very big, expensive Halloween party. First thing you need:A customer with a lot of money.
They carved huge gargoyles out of big blocks of styrofoam they glued together, then after the party, everything, all that incredible artistic work got trashed!?

I once rented some plastic airplane models to a TV pilot show for NBC.
I got a call,"If you want your models back, you'd better get up here right now!"
I lived 3 blocks away, all I ever found of those planes was one wing.
The one actor stuck the local motel for $1,200.oo! Whata guy!

Greg Chrise
11-19-2008, 10:21 AM
It doesn't matter whether it is $100 in decorations or $10,000 in decorations, any party goer thinks everything was bought for just hat one event and will be going in the dumpster later so they may as well take it. A host isn't likely to make an announcement not to take the party decorations, I'm a cheap bastard and only rented this stuff.

Some how as the prop owner or artist, spending even $10,000 on stuff seems to be fair exchange for attending the party for free. Good deal for them. They might be used to returning buffet serving steamers tables and chairs but, beyond that even if you are there at closing time, you cant chase all 400 items you put out for atmosphere. You really have to consider the labor of retrieving, cleaning repairing and packing, posibly storage costs of all these items and you will discover no one wants to pay you to come get your stuff.

The only business model that works is getting paid up front for items as if they were being sold. If you get them back then a portion of the money will be returned. This may infact be the best way in the world to get rid of props that are too cheesy for a pro haunt you bought 10 years ago for inspiration but, are tired of storing and fear the item will soon rot.

For a party these cheesy items are the best ever. So great people take them as souvenirs. The bottom line is you sold them so they could be absconded even thought this is referred to as renting. Totally hidden in one cheesy item is how many miles you traveled to get that thing, how many hours were invested in either creating it or fitting it into a display.

You also have to pick your customers well. People with a "budget" that are willing to pay up front or make a deposit are good customers. People that will give a percentage of the door or simply say send me a bill are generally not. Just because 100 people called you does not mean they are your customers. They may in fact be spending lots of your time and money going to see where the party is going to be. Are you as well being compensated for that?

The mind set of someone that is your customer and will drop $4,000 or more (one days pay) on party decor is that they bought this stuff, it is theirs and they will distribute it as part of the fun or keep it themselves for following years parties. In the case of distributing even $150 a pop props, the party host has given that away so those people will always remember him, in some form of appreciation. A skeleton in you closet is much more of a reminder than a pen and pencil set. To him that $150 party favor will represent 5 referralls of $4,000 services rendered. Meanwhile you wish you hadn't sold an $18 skull you used to have.

Depending on how much stuff you have to "rent" The next level is why not support a charity haunted house. It amounts to the same thing. You get a percentage of the door. On the last night they take all the masks and props out while 60 people are there and throw them in a pile as if to claim them as theirs like they own them now. Some stuff ended up in peoples cars never to be seen again and lots of it was trashed and goes to the dumpster. The only thing you get back is walls and big stuff like coffins, haunted refrigerators. The same thing as tables, chairs and buffet settings. Even as a charity, they paid for all that stuff they grabbed. From year to year you pre estimate what you will give them as party favors.

A charity haunt IS a party. Actors are coming to scare for free because of the fun, getting together with others and pizza, Even other sponsors feel they have donated thousands and hence they must have bought all this crap.

You have to be smarter than the situation. You bought the stuff at 50% sales r at whole sale or used. You really made this thing 2 years ago for $25 but, it is pretty close to rotting and wish you could sell it to recover your labor. So, you put it in there at a pre determined price and it's gone. That little last night or end of party frenzy is exactly like the floor of the New York stock exchange. People just worked 80 hours for free and expect something out of it or they paid $75 a ticket and they want their money's worth or, the $4,000 guy invited me because I have sent him $120,000 in business just this year and he can go buy another stupid skeleton or pay the rental guy. Even if you are there, you need to hang back and not jump in front of a "customer" that is about to make you money.

Any of those customers have no idea what investment was required all year long, scouring things off ebay, buying out other haunts that are upgrading or traveling to conventions. All they know is when you showed up it's like Santa arrived and when you left they got to keep all the gfts and Santa only took the cookies.

Even with a pocket full of cash people will be thanking you and so happy they ran into you or you suggested a few things for their party or event, They never could have made such a memorable impact with out you. In reality you had a Spirit Halloween Store in the back of your hearse and don't really want any of those torn snotty staff infected masks back. You would rather have the dollar amount to repeat the cycle or if you have a haunt, finance the upgrading of your props.

It's kind of like you sell D grade technology to India and China and Keep the A grade at home. You might share B grade technology with your allies because their customers are paying for it.

Tables and chairs will last through quite a few parties with some minor loses. To really participate long term in this "market" you can't be selling D grade technology for A grade prices. Provide a reasonable service. D grade parties don't deserve A grade props. Leave them at home. Some day if their parties really pay the big bucks they can have this A grade item. This can be put to them in an inspiring fashion as you really like this item and their current budget wouldn't realistically cover this item as opposed to you can't afford it or you don't have a history of sending stacks of cash my way, you cheap bastard.

11-19-2008, 12:20 PM
Thanks for the advice!

11-19-2008, 03:15 PM
I can't say I always agree with Greg (although I usually do) but it is unbelievable the time and thought he puts into providing answers on such a wide variety of subjects.

Greg Chrise
11-19-2008, 05:25 PM
I can't say I always agree with myself....

creep house
11-19-2008, 11:30 PM
I have rented some of my props to a guy who has a big halloween party every year ,always the Saturday before halloween....

first year i rented him a electric chair ( distortions )...$300 for the night,,

it was such a hit the next year 2 more props , 2 foggers...$ 600

one of them was The New Spew....awsome early on but not so good later that night
he was set-up in the front yard , drunks + food at 3:00 a.m. well you can guess the rest of the story............have you ever been drunk and watched someone puke?...there you go..

this year The Impayler and a Bolt..........$1200

easy money if you ask me...

This guy offered more money , but 1200 was plenty (repeat biz)

It was a easy setup...2miles from my house......

i didn`t ask for money up front because i have been friends with him for 10

years , i knew his money was good.

11-20-2008, 03:51 PM
With the parties I throw. I have been told many times to rent out my parties to corporations and what not. I don't spend every waking minute setting up my elaborate parties, so they can take a few weeks to set-up. You know work does come before play unfortunately.

I have many dollars(tens of thousands) invested in my props. I for one would not give them away at the end of the night.

You paid me for a service to decorate your party. Sorry, but that doesn't mean you can keep the props at the end of the night.

Greg Chrise
11-20-2008, 06:32 PM
Perhaps it is the difference of your party and over the years you have trained your patrons vs. someone elses party. If is is someone elses party I'm not sure if you can also afford a security team to shake down everyone that leaves by so many exits. You can't afford to have the Walmart scan tag system set off the alarm at the door. You can't afford GPS tracking of every item or that scanner hallway from the movie Total Recall. If it is someone else's party they don't want to see any of that. They might not even want you there at all except for clean up day because you aren't to them considered one of the rich pretty people.

Perhaps you can only make sure every prop is bigger than any normal human orifice and glows in the dark? Or has an electronic perimeter shock collar on it.

Certainly I have been to Halloween and Haunted parties and never thought about deserving more than 2 free drink tickets for $75. Lots of people are looking for the score and aren't content with they might meet someone they will be glad they got to meet. It certainly hasn't been for the food served anywhere. Of course some haunted parties give out some pretty expensive props that were donated by sponsors as door prizes. I never win anything.

Instead of figuring out I need to take that skeleton at the door to get my $75 worth, I just don't give them $75 anymore.

It amazes me that people go to a buffet type restautant and think they need to eat 12 buckets of food to get their $8 worth. Even if they throw up on the table and can't function for a few days. Like this is the last time you will eat for months like a snake?

I have told the waitress at IHOP (who said sir, you may not be familiar with our menu) I don't want seasoned fries and if I can't have fries with out seasoning they sprinkle on after cooking them, I'm taking that Neon sign that says IHOP outside with me, I have given so much money to Ihop over the years I pretty much bought that AND had the parking lot resurfaced for them several times. I've been there so many times I have the menu memorized but, I can't seem to get fries with out that damn new seasoning on them, even when I ask not to have it. Go back there and hold the fry guy's hands so he doesn't grab the shaker of stupid unwanted seasoning on the next batch.

I think the old waitresses get the new waitresses to come say thing to me just to see what crazy stuff I will come up with. The reviews came back that I am horribly rude. It's not like I knocked down the new waitress and kicked her in the head 30 times for bringing me the wrong fries, maybe she doesn't know what rude is?

Once you get into multiple locations you can't be everywhere either. The cooks at my IHOP need to go eat at the one in Waco Texas to see what their potential could be. What kind of cooking to aspire to.

Greg Chrise
11-20-2008, 08:03 PM
There, shawnc, I don't think I agree with my last post.

11-20-2008, 09:38 PM
Me neither.

Uh oh, does that mean I do agree with you again?