Super Happy Fun Land Goes National? (Er, Midwestional?)
Got a little bit of news late last week that threw me off somewhat — while looking at the show listings for ever-entertaining, quirky-as-hell Houston venue Super Happy Fun Land, I ran across this listing:
Organ Failure and Poopy Lungstuffing at
Super Happy Fun Land Little Rock
Grand Opening Party!
Little Rock Arkansas
Naturally, when I read that, my brain pretty much imploded. Wha? Did this mean that SHFL founders/proprietors Brian and Poopy (don’t know her “real” name, sorry) were, God forbid, moving up to freaking Arkansas? Or, weirder still, that there’s somehow more than one SHFL out there in the world? And why in the hell haven’t I heard about this before now?
Extremely confused, I fired off a semi-panicked email, and got a surprisingly prompt response from Brian confirming the middle of those three questions:
No, we are not moving, we are franchising. We are proud to announce that Super Happy Fun Land now has 2 locations! We have been working with Casey Jones in Little Rock for years on various tours and performances, and he always expressed an interest in opening a Super Happy Fun Land in his city. After doing hundreds of awesome house shows there over the years, he finally found a location that is perfect!
Little Rock is a perfect stop for touring bands who are headed up from Houston to St. Louis, Chicago, and other mid-west locations. This is an attractive options for bands who want to tour only halfway around the country instead of doing a whole national tour (going down either the east or west coast, then over here to play Austin, Houston, Dallas, and then cutting back up the middle and back over to whichever side they are coming from, really it kind of works a little better if it is an east coast band, west coast bands have to do a ton of driving no matter what).
Casey has taken over an amazing pre-existing space, it has a large art gallery, performance area, and a cafe/bar. It is located in the downtown riverwalk area of Little Rock which is a beautiful part of a beautiful city. The kids in Little Rock are more supportive of traveling performers than just about any other city that I have seen on many tours, Casey really knows how to get folks out to his shows!
So, is this the new SHFL “franchise” model? Much as I love the place, I didn’t think it quite had that kind of cachet, but hell, why not? (It beats the House of Blues — ba-dm-ch!) Apparently that’s sorta-kinda the plan:
We are actually looking to open up locations in other cities, we have been considering Austin and Dallas for some time now.
Basically we give an interested party that we approve of use of our name. They can use it for their venue and events for free unless they gross over $250,000 a year (in that case the would have to pay a franchise fee). Basically the only reason for that contingency is in the unlikely event that they actually make a sizable profit with running a DIY venue like Super Happy Fun Land (one far fetched example of how this could possibly happen is say that they start a Bonnaroo type festival in Arkansas using our name and all of a sudden they are making millions of dollars, well then we would want our cut).
The benefit they get is that we have good name recognition and a great reputation with touring bands (we have hosted several thousands of touring bands in the 8 and a half years we have been open). They will attract more bands of a higher caliber to their city. What we get is even more name recognition and reputation with touring bands, as well as helping spread the Super Happy Fun Land (Trademark Pending) concept and philosophy to other cities.
There you go. People of Arkansas — and bands that happen to tour through there, too, obviously — you’re about to get a blast of good-hearted, who-gives-a-fuck? H-town strangeness coming your way, in the form of Super Happy Fun Land [Little Rock], which celebrates its official grand opening party this coming Friday, July 1st (although they’ve apparently already been hosting shows this past month). Get ready to embrace it…