On a recent Wednesday morning, a small room in a strip mall shop had fragile and breakable items, such as wine bottles, dishware and laptops, positioned carefully on shelves and side tables. By the afternoon, they were all broken.
Store owner Brittany Yarnton was perfectly fine with the destruction, as the people who inflicted the damage paid for the right. Yarnton even cleaned up the mess afterward.
That’s the gist behind new Queen City business The Rage Room LLC, which opened Aug. 21 in the Plaza Shopping Center, 1950 S. Glenstone Ave., Ste. I. Customers make appointments to break items like plates, computer monitors, vases and coffeemakers. Destruction tools of choice include baseball bats, golf clubs and sledgehammers. Package prices range from $25 to $100, with sessions in the shop’s Rage Room lasting five minutes to an hour, Yarnton said.
In just its first couple weeks of operation, Yarnton said she and husband Chris, the lone two employees, have been a bit surprised by the age range of the customers.
“It’s strange because we get 20-year-olds in here, and we get 50-plus-year-olds, too,” she said, noting they thought people in the 20- to 30-year-old range would be the general clientele.
“It’s fun,” Yarnton added. “A lot of people think you have to be angry to come here, but it’s not really like that at all.”
Participants have to be 18 and older, and she said people will be turned away if they exhibit signs of intoxication. Tennis shoes or boots are required footwear in the room. Plus, a liability waiver has to be signed before any breaking begins.
Safety equipment is also a requirement with guests asked to don yellow protective suits, a hard hat, gloves and goggles. Hearing protection is offered for those desiring to not hear their destructive exploits so loudly.
Yarnton doesn’t deny it can get a little noisy in the shop as people break things. That also led to a several weeks search this summer to find a location to accommodate the unique needs.
“It was a challenge, because due to sound, it does get loud in here,” she said. “We play music, breaking things in here is implied, and some people just because of insurance reasons didn’t want it in their spot. It’s all the name of the game.”
After deciding to venture into such an unconventional business, Yarnton said it took about 10 calls to insurance agents before finding All Service Insurance Agency LLC, which agreed to insure the operation. The annual policy cost is roughly $1,600 per year, she said.
Trent Sears, agent with All Serve Insurance Agency in Ozark, didn’t return a message seeking comment about the policy by press time.
After finally finding a suitable building, Yarnton said the couple signed a two-year lease with owner Jim Scovell for an undisclosed rate.
Startup costs for upgrading the 1,000-square-foot space, which included HVAC work, removing old carpet, installing new flooring and a paint job, were around $15,000, she said.
The Yarntons, who are parents of three children, ages 2, 9 and 11, also have other jobs – Brittany is a real estate agent with Keller Williams and Chris operates a small engine repair shop.
“I just have to schedule it all around,” Yarnton said. “It’s a lot of work, don’t get me wrong. But it’s worth it.”
Yarnton said she sees the business as a form of stress relief. People generally try so hard to not break things in life that when they can, it’s kind of a release, she said.
She said up to four people can be in the room at one time, depending on the type of package ordered. Appointment periods are booked in 30-minute increments.
“Some people just go wild, and then some just kind of walk around and take a while to break things,” she said.
Much like the Yarntons’ new business, other similarly themed shops centered on smashing stuff have crafted memorable names, such as Sin City Smash in Las Vegas, The Anger Room in Dallas, Rage Ground in Los Angeles and Tantrums LLC in Houston, Texas.
The Rage Room wasn’t even the only Springfield shop to tackle such a unique business model, as another venture was briefly in operation earlier this year. Frenzy Fits Stress Clinic opened on South Campbell Avenue in April, but on its Facebook page, the business announced June 16 it was closing due to inactivity and personal reasons. Frenzy Fits owner Savanna Sperandio declined Springfield Business Journal’s interview request about her business.
Despite descriptive words such as “rage,” “anger” and “smash” being part of some of the business names, Yarnton said participants should view it as an alternative form of recreation.
She acknowledges some have been critical of businesses like hers on social media. She refers to them as “keyboard bullies.” That criticism extends to people believing young children shouldn’t be exposed to even watching acts of destruction that these places are centered on.
“Once my kids are older, I’d let them do it. I don’t feel bad about it,” she said.
With one similar business closing so quickly in Springfield, Yarnton said she’s uncertain if others might take their own shot. Still, she’s hopeful locals see the business providing a unique way to spend some time.
“It’s just a different form of entertainment,” she said. “I would rather come here than go do something I’ve done a million times.”
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