Halloween offers many opportunities for those people who want to make some serious money as well as those who just want to pick up some seasonal pocket cash. The opportunities are as vast as the realms of all human imagination. Previously I talked about how to approach your business in general-- becoming a Halloween professional through researching as much as possible, coming up with a strong workable plan, and finding the funds to make it all come together. At some point, however, you must decide exactly what you want to do.
Halloween retail is one of the more obvious business choices. It is also the one that might take the most investment. There are the fixtures, the product, the location, the employees, as well as all of the other details involved in opening a business. Some store owners, for example specialized clothing, may merely alter their stores to focus on Halloween. Those who do not have the existing space and wish to open the temporary seasonal outlet must enter the business just like any other store start up would do, but keeping an emphasis on seasonal temporary store. You do not want to end up with a lot of leftover merchandise that you will have to keep in storage. The established reliable vendors will usually be more than willing to help you decide how much product to buy. After all, your success will hopefully result in repeat business for them.
A haunted attraction is another possible business option. These attractions may come in many forms such as themed amusements, mazes, haunted transports, theatrical entertainment venues, or whatever else you can imagine. This area of the Halloween Industry is where imagination, creativity, artistic ability, and craftsmanship really come into play. Any of these attractions can be integrated into one's existing location or installed temporily in a location used for the season.
A Haunted House can be set up in a free standing location or an empty space in a mall or shopping center. The location will be best if it is easily accessible or in a high traffic area. A unique theme will help your attraction stand out. A vacant old hospital can be turned into a Horror Hospital or an abandoned building might be a Haunted Hotel. If you can incorporate any local history or legend into your attraction, that might increase audience draw as well as providing more opportunity for good publicity stories. Always keep safety in mind. Your attraction will have to pass inspections so know what local requirements are before you start setting something up. And don't forget insurance. You don't want anyone to get hurt, but you want to be covered if anything does happen.
If you have a farm or know someone who will work with you to convert their farm, you might do a maze, a pumpkin patch, or a hayride. You can do variants on any of these ideas in other locations as well. Try to draw upon your skills and assets or those of others who would be willing to help you. Do you know someone with a theater space and you have theatrical know-how and contacts? Put on a Spook Show or some other sort of production with a Halloween tie-in. Is there an athletic booster club or some other type of organization that would like to raise some funds and would be willing to sponsor a venture under your expert guidance? If you come across as an expert and can successfully do the job, you can probably find some source of funding or sponsorship that will make it easier to get your idea off the ground.
Any of these attractions will require some investment. You will need things like props, costumes, masks, and make-up. Like the merchandiser you will need to investigate the best vendors. You will need to find the people to do some of the things you can't do, and let's face it, you can't do everything yourself. You will need a good location. Start looking at locations, imagine what you can do with them, and talk to the property owners to see what they will work out with you. In today's economy their are many vacant properties on which owners may be more than willing to negotiate a good deal. Don't wait too long to do any of these things.
Since you are just starting out and want to limit spending, don't forget one of the best deals--things you can get for free. When you are decorating your attraction you will want to purchase some quality horror decorations, but in dressing up the scenes and decor there are many things that people will be glad to give you or that you can buy at very low prices (think Craig's List and yard sales). Things that you might want to start accumulating are old furniture, appliances, tools, tires, barrels, and anything else that looks old and discarded--translated scary.
Even if you don't think you have what it takes to put together something on a big scale, you can still make some extra money doing something you really like. If you enjoy hamming it up, rent yourself out as a monster or some other character for parties or events. If you like to cook, make gourmet halloween cupcakes and cookies. If you are good with make up, you might find a place where you could do expert make-up jobs or face-painting. It's all up to you. You must find what it is that you enjoy doing or take what you are already doing and put it in the context of the Halloween Business.
The main thing to keep in mind is be wise. I cannot give enough emphasis into doing your homework thoroughly. Research the field, ask those who are in the know, do more research, make a very careful plan. Then dive in and do it! I'm not guaranteeing that anyone is going to be successful, but if you methodically take your time and take the correct approach then the chance of failure is lessened. Remember that if you want to start a Halloween business next year, the time to start is right now.