Something fun to do as a family.
I wasn’t joking when I said that my family and I are mini golfers. Doing something with my kids that gets their faces away from their screens is important to me.
Proximity to Switzerland, Ohio, Ripley, Jefferson, Trimble, Carroll and Gallatin Counties.
There are estimated to be between 5000 and 10,000 mini golf courses in the US (I have no idea why there is such range). Doing a quick “near me” google search one can find mini golf courses in Madison, Hanover, Columbus, Greensburg, Indy and Cincinnati. My family has been to the one’s in Greensburg, Columbus and Indy, and I had visited the one in Madison years ago. To find an “attraction” type of mini golf, though, you’re going to have to travel to Indy or Cincy. So if its fun, affordable and provides a quality experience, I think the parents and kids in a 7 county radius of Vevay would be willing to travel here.
Time for a question. What can you do for $7?
Maybe a movie. Maybe a fast food meal. Definitely not an amusement park, definitely not a concert, definitely not a sporting event.
This business can operate with minimal expenses.
If a developer is considering operating expenses, mini golf courses are relatively inexpensive. Most can be started by hiring entry level workers. The only inventory to speak of would be balls, putters, and scorecards. So operating expenses can be manageable at about $5000 per month with 2 employees.
Down the road, though, I would hope that owners would consider hiring marketing staff, full time maintenance crews, and also consider paying the entry level positions higher than surrounding entry level jobs. But….
Phased in entertainment, expenses and revenues.
With a complex like this in mind, it would be appropriate to build this in phases. Year 1 you could build a “world class” mini golf course with good parking. Year 2 then brings on the clubhouse with the second 18-hole course built inside with handicap accessible holes. Year 3 could bring about the go kart track and any other attraction that would fit on the property.
Provide year round entertainment for visitors.
So considering the phasing of a project like this, one way I think a course in Vevay could differentiate itself is by creating an indoor 18-hole course. I know of a couple courses in the Greenwood and Indy area and they are, by no means, extravagant in experience. Mostly just black lights and a couple of rocks. Going back to what can you spend $7 on, now what are the options for an outdoor experience that is indoors.
Courses can fit into tiny spaces.
Per the castlegolf website, an outside 18-hole course commonly uses between 20,000 and 25,000 square feet of space, whereas and indoor course can range between 6000 and 12,000 square feet of required space. This particular vacant lot at the east end of Vevay, has roughly 4.5 acres, so there is more than enough room to get this and other projects going.
So now let’s get into the revenue side of just the mini golf course itself. Using the 7 county radius surrounding Vevay as our target market and using the number of students aged 5-18 as our Total Available Market, we come up with 14700 kids. Now, not all of Swiss County will want to play, not all of Trimble County will travel, but by taking a low percentage of kids from each county and adding the same number of parents, I come up with a yearly goal of 18000 rounds of golf. At $7 per round that’s an annual revenue, probably achievable by year 3, of $125,000. There are a lot of factors that could help those numbers, like the extra visitors during Wine Fest, Car Shows, or various First Fridays or the addition of a go-kart track and restaurant. And of course some factors could hurt as well, like staffing turnover, bad marketing plans, etc.
If 18 holes can produce roughtly $125,000 in revenue, then 36 holes should be able to produce $200,000 per year. I think someone in Vevay could turn this investment into a profit.
You can control your construction costs with design and planning.
How much does it cost to create and build a project of this size? Well, there are no definitive calculators for such a project until you get into the details of theming and scope. If one were to consider franchising or modular type construction, I have startup costs ranging between $25,000 and $150,000. For a one-of-a-kind, custom type course one can expect a range of $100,000 to $500,000.
Let me hear your thoughts on what you’d pay and how many times you’d pay for a round a mini golf. I would love to hear some discussion about theming of the course. Maybe you’ve got some time and money laying around and have been looking for your next project. Let’s talk about it.
When going on vacation we always search for places where Pa can show off in front of his 2 boys. So, mini golf is a staple in our household. We've been to some pretty elaborate set ups throughout the country; some have fire spewing volcanoes, whack your ball over rapids, pick a tube and hope it comes out. We’ve also been to some not so elaborate set ups; like those with 2x4 edges, paper mache zoo animals and some where you never get your ball back. No matter the setup, the game is the same and almost always provides an hours worth of entertainment.
We’ll get into the business numbers in a few days, but if someone in Vevay were to build a mini golf complex, here's one possibility that could help it get started.
How about using the currently unoccupied, town-owned, tract of land on the east end of Vevay to build a modern attraction. The east end is clearly a gateway from Belterra, Kentucky and Cincinnati, so it makes it ideal for setting an attraction for visitors. But Vevay being as small as it is, this location is also ideal for residents because it is still walk-able for most.
Taking cues from a place called Great Times in Indianapolis, I've combined a 36-hole mini golf course and go-kart track into one complex, with the possibility of modern architecture, water features, parking, arcade games and possibly even a small restaurant all built into one tract.
These drawings are obviously just conceptual in nature and there are no plans in the works, but the possibility of creating a great spot for locals and visitors alike is just at the east end. Let me know what you think.
There's nothing to do in Vevay.
“There’s nothing to do in Vevay.”
I’ve heard it. I’ve said it. It's been said for decades. Obviously, though, there is plenty to do in Vevay. Go for a walk. Take pictures of the architecture. Go bowling. Go to a performance. Play cards. Go out to eat. Watch your kids participate in something. Go hunting or fishing. Take a drive.
What we are meaning when we say “there’s nothing to do” is … “I’m bored, I want something new”. It’s a natural response to boredom and we’ve been trained, by parents and by self, to love getting something new. New pair of shoes, new jeans, new car, new house ... we love getting something new. Dopamine, the body's natural chemical associated with reward, is released when we experience excitement from a new situation. We work really hard and we want to reward ourselves with something new. We’ll talk more about this later.
So here’s something new. Something I’ve always thought would be great for Vevay. Something I’ve heard others say would be great for Vevay.
A Mini Golf Complex
In the next post I’ll go into more detail about the proposed location, pricing, demographics, etc. For now, though, I’m open to your initial thoughts.
first, A look into the future.
The year is 2047 and I’m helping my wife Jami clean up after a surprise “semi-retirement” party. We had co-workers from all over Switzerland County, the boys and their families and a few other friends from around Vevay. My wife had been planning this thing for weeks, and how she kept things so secret in a small town like Vevay is some next-level effort.
I started my company years ago with the hope of making real positive change in our family’s lives, but also in the lives of those around me. Little did I know that Vevay would become the main focus of that positive change, and would eventually lead us to move back to in 2027.
Next week we hand over the reigns of our company to Allison, my operations manager for the last 10 years. Allison was instrumental in helping to create our many ventures; some of which include a fundraising company, a global t-shirt brand, a number of restaurants, a re-use manufacturing facility, and a dozen niche websites/app companies. We’ve created a workforce of 1000 strong with solid wages and strong benefits, and we did that in Vevay, a small town that many outsiders had written off for years. I drove the creative, while Allison drove the revenue. Allison and I recognized early that to keep a workforce that large, we had to provide places for them to play in the evenings, so that's why we also created places like the 36 hole putt-putt complex, a race track and a 5-mile multi-use trail.
Allison is a also Vevay native and a 2035 graduate of Switzerland County High School. Allison has always loved Vevay. Her mom and dad told her stories about how Vevay and Switzerland County have this “feel” about it that you can’t find in other places. People know and care about each other, the schools are great, support systems are great, cost-of-living is low and crime is relatively low. Its always just struggled to keep and grow a workforce.
Allison always knew of Vevay's potential, that’s why we hired her then and that’s why she’s taking over now. It’s hard to predict what Vevay and Switzerland County will look like in 2050, but under Allison’s direction I know this company will continue to help with the “moving forward.”
To make a prediction like this, I'll either go down in flames or will look back and marvel at how close we came. This story was fictional and in the future, but it will serve as a reminder of our goals. By the way, Allison would be about 2 years old right now. So there's a lot of work to get done.
So ... why Vevay?
My name is Brack and I am a native of Vevay. I was a 1995 graduate of Switzerland County High School and a 2000 graduate of Purdue University. My degree in Landscape Architecture led me to my first job in Boulder, Colorado, which eventually led me to my wife, which led me to my boys, which led me to being a stay-at-home dad, which led me to years of side jobs and daydreaming about what I want to do next.
So, until that daydreaming turns into the "opportunity of a lifetime", I'm starting another website. I've started many; other blogs, shareable statistics, profile overlays, good news, etc. Of course, since those didn't make much headway, I started making sites for other people. This website will have a dramatically different approach than the others I made. It will still be a creative outlet … a way to use my landscape architecture and my web development skills, but use them, I hope, to positively shape Vevay and Switzerland County. I want take the experiences I’ve had from the places I’ve been, take the mistakes I’ve made and the lessons I’ve learned … and use them to provide the “movers and shakers” of Vevay and Switzerland County with a vision for what I believe could be. (Do people still say movers and shakers?)
This site WILL BE about ideas and actionable plans, easy to understand graphics and facilitated discussion. This site WILL BE about preserving what's good about Switzerland County and making changes to what might have been good 50 years ago. This site WILL BE uncomfortable at times as properties and people will be affected. This site WILL ALWAYS lean toward hope. This site WILL ALWAYS see Vevay and Switzerland County as having worth. Hopefully one day, this site WILL LEAD to the opening of a creative media studio in Vevay. If you’d like to help make happen, please contact me.
So … why Vevay? Why start a blog and why spend my efforts trying to help Vevay? Why not drive to Indy and work for a firm that's established and making money? That question answers itself for me. I don't want to drive to Indy. I don't want to help an established firm make money. I'd rather drive to Vevay and figure out a way to make money. But why? Because Vevay has this draw that is inexplicable. Because Vevay deserves the attention. Because my dreams all started in Vevay. Because there are solvable problems in Vevay. Because I want to join in with the others who have contributed so much to the fabric of Switzerland County. Because I still call Vevay home.
I hope you’ll join me in making this website a driving force in the future of Vevay and Switzerland County. You can do that by sharing this site, adding comments, helping me with photography, or becoming a paid advertiser.
GoVevay is about affecting the "moving forward" of our historic hometown. You can read more about it here.