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Meet Fred Long of Fred’s Playland in Central San Diego

Today we’d like to introduce you to Fred Long.

Fred, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Fred’s Playland began a little over fifteen years ago. I found that I was surrounded by a lot of friends who didn’t really like to do much. I’m a person who Embraces life and wants to experience as much as possible. There’s got to be very frustrating and boring after a while so one day I had this idea about creating a group of new friends. Friends who don’t mind going out and experiencing life and new adventures. This group started off with eight initial members. We would have things like bowling nights, movie nights and sometimes trips to places like Magic Mountain and such. A few other people join over the next year too and one day it seems like I received a message that this should be a little more.

Throughout my entire life I have been blessed with many opportunities which were way above my income level. I’ve always had a knack of finding great bargains and negotiating great deals. I felt this is my opportunity to share some of this tablet with everyone else. Actually anyone who is interested. I started putting together local activities and short trips and making them as inexpensive as possible. Fred’s Playland has never made a profit on any of its events and it is strictly for the benefit of the members. And short this is my gift to anyone who chooses to accept it. I realize there are people who are not very outgoing, don’t like social that’s and aren’t really into Adventure. This group is not for them. This is for people who actually have a passion or even a desire to make life a little more interesting and have a lot more fun.

15 years later this group of eight people has grown to over 2,000 members. We are still doing local events in addition to trips to Phoenix for tubing on the river, trips to the Grand Canyon and other such incredible Adventures. This little group has grown Way Beyond anything I expected. It was just kind of dropped in my lap. Sometimes it’s scary as hell but I’m determined to keep it pure and make it the best it can be.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
There have definitely been some challenges and obstacles along the way. But not the ones you might expect. What are the biggest surprises I’ve had a long this 15 year mission, has been opposition from people who think I shouldn’t be doing what I’m doing for free. It seems there are very few people in our society who are willing or motivated to do anything that’s not profit motivated. I’ve had people criticize me and even get angry with me for doing what I do and not making any money from it. I have one friend who will not get out of the bed in the morning if there’s not a dollar to be made from doing that. I have made it my goal to make a change. Even if I’m the only person that has this opinion, it’s my opinion and I believe in it firmly. Everything in life doesn’t have to be profit or income motivated. I believe it’s okay to do things for people just to enrich their lives, show them new and different things or just put a smile on their faces.

As the group got larger I encountered a different obstacle. All of my events are very reasonably priced. Probably the cheapest you’ll find anywhere in the world. A lot of them are actually free. The biggest surprise I found was that when you offer things extremely inexpensive or free people have tendency to flake on you or not show up. I’ve had to Institute certain rules and zero-tolerance policies because of this. Funny thing about Yuma nature, if you offer something absolutely free, a lot of people feel it’s just not important enough to show up.
There have been a few other challenges but for the most part every bit of work and every ounce of adversity just makes me feel better about what I do.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Fred’s Playland story. Tell us more about the business.
Fred’s Playland is a very unique organization. I like to say I specialize in fun. Everyone is welcome. Is one of the most diverse organizations I’ve ever seen and I’m proud to be the organizer. We have every race Creed color and profession age group that etc… I Offer a wide variety of activities, trips, adventures and every other kind of fun I can think of. A lot of my members suggest new and unusual things that we might do. I browse through them and pick out the ones that I think might be appropriate and fun for the group. I’ve adopted a saying from the movie (Ferris Bueller’s Day Off). “Life’s short, if you’re not careful you could miss it”

Fred’s Playland is free to join and everything we do is either cheaper than you will find anywhere on the planet or free. There’s only one rule associated with membership. You have to be fun. No mean people allowed. I believe this is what keeps people coming back over and over for more fun and more excitement.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I feel like I’m the luckiest man in the world to have been blessed and entrusted with this incredible idea that is Fred’s Playland. I really do feel it’s a blessing. Not only to everyone that it serves but also to me because I’ve been able to meet an associate with what such an incredibly large group of wonderful people. It has become a huge part of my life and I hope I can continue to do it forever.

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