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Haunted house convention in Milwaukee aims to scare up business

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  • Richard D. Hendricks
    Haunted house convention in Milwaukee aims to scare up business By Doris Hajewski of
    Message 1 of 2 , May 1, 2009
      Haunted house convention in Milwaukee aims to scare up business


      By Doris Hajewski
      <http://www.jsonline.com/business/mailto:dhajewski@...>
      of the Journal Sentinel

      Posted: Apr. 30, 2009

      Make your own Eyeballs. Corpsifying a Bucky Skull. Creature Hands Make N
      Take.

      There are so many sessions to choose from at HAuNTcon
      <http://www.hauntcon.com/> that it almost makes your head spin.

      The show floor at the sixth annual Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow
      and Convention opens Friday at the Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel.
      Organizers are hoping to attract 1,000 people to the gathering, which
      connects spooky product vendors with operators of haunted houses across
      the United States. The show, which runs through Monday, is open to the
      public.

      While most people think of haunted houses as charity fund-raisers, the
      business of scaring has turned into a major for-profit industry,
      according to Leonard Pickel, who operates the trade show.

      "It's a business like any other," Pickel said. "When the for-profits
      realized that 10,000 to 30,000 people were going through, it didn't take
      long for them to take over."

      He estimates that 3,000 to 5,000 haunted houses are open each October in
      the U.S., for a total revenue of $500 million. With so many people out
      of work now, he expects some of them to try to make money by setting up
      haunted houses.

      Pickel, 52, who has a degree in architectural design, long ago gave up
      his day job for a full-time career in the boo business. He started as a
      volunteer at a March of Dimes haunted house in Dallas and went on to
      open his own for-profit haunt, Mayhem Manor, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Today
      he also operates D.O.A. Design Group, publishes Haunted Attraction
      magazine and runs a brokerage firm, Hauntrepreneurs, that sells used
      haunted houses.

      His HAuNTcon trade show travels to a different city every year.
      Milwaukee was chosen partly at the urging of Tim Gavinski of Waukesha,
      who has been in the haunting business for 15 years. Now retired from the
      U.S. Postal Service, Gavinski owns Nightmares4U Inc. and operates the
      Wisconsin Feargrounds <http://www.wisconsinfeargrounds.com/> in October
      at the Waukesha County Expo Center.

      Wisconsin has several haunted attractions that are operated by
      charities, Gavinski noted.

      "We're hoping that, by bringing the national convention here, everyone
      will get a little bump," said Gavinski, who is a past president of the
      International Association of Haunted Attractions
      <http://www.iahaweb.com/>. HAuNTcon attendees who arrived early spent
      two days this week on a bus, touring haunted attractions around Wisconsin.

      The agenda includes a costume ball Saturday night and a hearse parade
      Sunday. While the first weekend in May isn't a time when the average
      person's thoughts turn to werewolf whiskers and skeletons, it's a time
      of year when professional haunters have time to play, Pickel said.

      During the day, there's serious talk at the sessions. The goal is to
      teach haunters how to make money.

      "If you don't make any money, you don't get to play anymore," Pickel
      explained. So attendees will learn about cost per square foot, floor
      plans, advertising and traffic flow.

      Those last two items are the most important, Pickel said, explaining
      that lack of advertising is the biggest mistake haunted house operators
      make.

      "It's so much easier to buy the biggest, coolest animatronic prop," he
      said. But it's more important to spend on advertising, with a budget
      based on $2 to $3 for each person you hope to attract.

      Next in importance is traffic flow through the attraction. Halloween is
      a short season, so you want to scare the people quickly and keep the
      customers moving through the front door.

      "You have to have an artistic side and a business side to be
      successful," Pickel said.



      Find this article at:
      http://www.jsonline.com/business/44103317.html
    • john scherf
      I ll be there doing security!!!!! Should be fun!!!! John Milwaukee Madness 2 U ... From: Richard D. Hendricks Subject: [weirdwi] Haunted
      Message 2 of 2 , May 1, 2009
        I'll be there doing security!!!!! Should be fun!!!!

        John
        Milwaukee Madness 2 U

        --- On Fri, 5/1/09, Richard D. Hendricks <rdh@...> wrote:
        From: Richard D. Hendricks <rdh@...>
        Subject: [weirdwi] Haunted house convention in Milwaukee aims to scare up business
        To: weirdwi@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Friday, May 1, 2009, 9:06 AM



















        Haunted house convention in Milwaukee aims to scare up business



        By Doris Hajewski

        <http://www.jsonline .com/business/ mailto:dhajewski @journalsentinel .com>

        of the Journal Sentinel



        Posted: Apr. 30, 2009



        Make your own Eyeballs. Corpsifying a Bucky Skull. Creature Hands Make N

        Take.



        There are so many sessions to choose from at HAuNTcon

        <http://www.hauntcon .com/> that it almost makes your head spin.



        The show floor at the sixth annual Haunted Attraction National Tradeshow

        and Convention opens Friday at the Wyndham Milwaukee Airport Hotel.

        Organizers are hoping to attract 1,000 people to the gathering, which

        connects spooky product vendors with operators of haunted houses across

        the United States. The show, which runs through Monday, is open to the

        public.



        While most people think of haunted houses as charity fund-raisers, the

        business of scaring has turned into a major for-profit industry,

        according to Leonard Pickel, who operates the trade show.



        "It's a business like any other," Pickel said. "When the for-profits

        realized that 10,000 to 30,000 people were going through, it didn't take

        long for them to take over."



        He estimates that 3,000 to 5,000 haunted houses are open each October in

        the U.S., for a total revenue of $500 million. With so many people out

        of work now, he expects some of them to try to make money by setting up

        haunted houses.



        Pickel, 52, who has a degree in architectural design, long ago gave up

        his day job for a full-time career in the boo business. He started as a

        volunteer at a March of Dimes haunted house in Dallas and went on to

        open his own for-profit haunt, Mayhem Manor, in Myrtle Beach, S.C. Today

        he also operates D.O.A. Design Group, publishes Haunted Attraction

        magazine and runs a brokerage firm, Hauntrepreneurs, that sells used

        haunted houses.



        His HAuNTcon trade show travels to a different city every year.

        Milwaukee was chosen partly at the urging of Tim Gavinski of Waukesha,

        who has been in the haunting business for 15 years. Now retired from the

        U.S. Postal Service, Gavinski owns Nightmares4U Inc. and operates the

        Wisconsin Feargrounds <http://www.wisconsi nfeargrounds. com/> in October

        at the Waukesha County Expo Center.



        Wisconsin has several haunted attractions that are operated by

        charities, Gavinski noted.



        "We're hoping that, by bringing the national convention here, everyone

        will get a little bump," said Gavinski, who is a past president of the

        International Association of Haunted Attractions

        <http://www.iahaweb com/>. HAuNTcon attendees who arrived early spent

        two days this week on a bus, touring haunted attractions around Wisconsin.



        The agenda includes a costume ball Saturday night and a hearse parade

        Sunday. While the first weekend in May isn't a time when the average

        person's thoughts turn to werewolf whiskers and skeletons, it's a time

        of year when professional haunters have time to play, Pickel said.



        During the day, there's serious talk at the sessions. The goal is to

        teach haunters how to make money.



        "If you don't make any money, you don't get to play anymore," Pickel

        explained. So attendees will learn about cost per square foot, floor

        plans, advertising and traffic flow.



        Those last two items are the most important, Pickel said, explaining

        that lack of advertising is the biggest mistake haunted house operators

        make.



        "It's so much easier to buy the biggest, coolest animatronic prop," he

        said. But it's more important to spend on advertising, with a budget

        based on $2 to $3 for each person you hope to attract.



        Next in importance is traffic flow through the attraction. Halloween is

        a short season, so you want to scare the people quickly and keep the

        customers moving through the front door.



        "You have to have an artistic side and a business side to be

        successful," Pickel said.



        Find this article at:

        http://www.jsonline .com/business/ 44103317. html































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