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Old 10-21-2008, 05:38 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Owning a Paintball Field/Proshop

For a living. Well, I don't know what to think about this, so I figured I'd just get public opinions on it.

My mom suggested to me the other day to look into the possibility of opening a paintball proshop and field. My friends tend to agree with her. I really am obsessed with the game, and they all figure it's something I'd be passionate about, and in consequence, good at.

As for me personally, I'm fair and good-natured, so I think I can deal with the people. I'm an Eagle Scout, so I've got leadership experience. I've also got a wealth of knowledge (mostly learned from you guys! ) and I feel I can help people who need it, like timing 'cockers and generally air-smithing. My downfall is I don't have business experience, but I'm still in college, so I can take a few biz classes if needed.

My question is, can a field/proshop combo actually produce enough money to make a modest living off of? I don't have dreams of glamor, just enough to get me by, keep my '65 Buick running, and get me a sailboat when I'm old. My biggest concern is the internet. With prices so cheap online, would I really have a chance of making enough profit to justify the means? The market for a field here in Houston is still fresh. I only know of four fields in the general area, and 3 of them are a franchise, one of them being indoors. There's a healthy 4 proshops that I know of as well. And Houston is over 4 million strong, so there's still a lot of room for potential income.

My plan would be simple if I go with it. Open it and stay with it until I get established enough to have "management," meaning I only have to be partly involved on-location. I can then do free-lance graphic design or animation for some back-up green. I don't really want to go in making money, I just want to go in to live, support the game and do something I enjoy. Is this even possible with a field?

I'm just pickin' brain-matter right now. Thanks for any input!
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Old 10-21-2008, 08:22 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:30 AM   #3 (permalink)
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I ran a proshop for 7 years, you probably will never get to a point where you're not working a million hours a week. Its really hard work, requires alot of time, doesn't pay well most of the time, get screwed bad every October, and so on. If you can do it then it is fun at least at first, but its brutal and you almost never get to play. I finaly got out due to a lack of time to do what I really wanted to with my life, if you want to give it a run then go for it, but if you want to do graphic design go for that as you'll make more and have alot more time to play. Two tips if you deside to try it, first focus on new players more then the tourney kids(ie don't carry much highend gear, thats where most stores loose and end up out of buisness) second don't try to price match the internet on stuff or you'll never make it, make it a good shopping experiance and give people a reason to buy from you instead(friendly cashiers, inteligent sales people, free repairs for a year on markers bought from you, stuff like that)
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Old 10-21-2008, 09:55 AM   #4 (permalink)
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I'm just about wrapping up my second year as a field owner. So far I haven't gotten a dime from the place, in fact it owes me some $$. I know it will eventually come along but it's not putting food on the table for sure. I really got a lot of information from the Field Owners forum at PBN, there is a lot of experience there. Some of the main posters are here to but much more active there. Be sure to read all the stickys since therre are tons of threads about people who want to open a field /store/website but don't do any research, they get smaked around a bit and told to do their own work.
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:30 AM   #5 (permalink)
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the owner of the field i work at has helped start 5-6 fields and still owns his after 6yrs if you want some more info Detrevni pm me and i can give you his contact info

thanks

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Old 10-21-2008, 10:37 AM   #6 (permalink)
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One thing I know about my (one) local field is that the owner never gets to play anymore. He misses it, but you just can't be 2 places at once.
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Old 10-21-2008, 10:37 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Only a small percentage of fields make decent money for the owner. Some more make a profit and many are run "just for the love of the sport", meaning the owners are not making any money or maybe even losing money. If you do it right, you can make money, but it's very difficult. If I were to start a new business today, it wouldn't be a paintball field. With the recent economic downturn and the reduced number of regular players over the last few years before that, now is not a great time to try to get into the business. There are more fields closing these days than ever before.

I don't own a proshop (because I know better) but from what I hear from all those that do, there is not much money in it, but a lot of time spent operating one. The margins are not great, there is much inventory that won't sell very fast to carry, and the overhead will suck you dry.

Getting to the point of having a manager run either a field or store will be very difficult. The little profit that you make will more than likely have to go to pay the manager. Most owners are the managers of paintball businesses and don't even make enough to pay a decent manager's wage, never mind getting any ROI (Return on Investment).

Hope I didn't rain on your parade. I'm not actually a particularily pessimistic person, more of a realist.

In the end, I think it's great that there are entrepreneurs out there that are willing to give things a try and if you think you can do things different or better than others and make a decent living doing it, then I wish you well. As Tugboater203 mentioned, the Field/store owners section at PBN (as much as I don't like most of PBN) is a great resource for potential paintball buusiness owners.
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:06 AM   #8 (permalink)
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Some things to consider

1. You will hardly ever get to play, buuuutt that's not always a problem.
2. The only guns you'll get to mess with are tippy's spyders and what ever new electro whiz bang is out.
3.Competition - you'll need something to draw the kiddies
Tank's Katy Paintball
#1 paintball Tomball
#1 paintball indoor
#1 paintball cypress
Urban War Zone
Paintball Zone
Paintball Zone North
Twisted Paintball
Brazos Splat Games
Paintball Bonanza
(I'm sure I missed on or two)

3. Land and location, How much acerage will you have where will it be located and what kind've fields would you have.

4. Take some buisness classes??? Have a clue about how to run a buisness so you can actualy make it??

Personaly I always wanted to take over one of the defunct Wal-Mart stores when they move out to a Super Wal-Mart and have a uber awesome indoor field with an arcade and pizza and stuff. And no worries about Texas Rainstorms or heat. Or being all small like other indoor fields.
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:07 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Between Brice and Horizon you have a great deal of knowledge and experience to guide you.

With where paintball is heading (apparently) I think it would be a bad idea to try and start up a new venture, especially as a full time for a living kind of thing.

Find another intrest which will pay the bills and provide a little capital to be able to play with on the paintball thing. Every person I know involved in this sport as business actually does something else for a living.
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Old 10-21-2008, 11:17 AM   #10 (permalink)
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If you love to play paintball stay away from owning a field. Been there, done that and it was killing my love of the game. After a couple of years I sold out my interest in the field/proshop so I could enjoy the game. Two of the four original partners are still at it and have a great/successful field and make a little money but both still need their "day jobs" to support their families and this is after over 10 years of time/money invested in the field.
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