Couple hopes The Wrecking Room will be a smashing success
WEATHERSFIELD, Nov 25, 2012 (Vindicator - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Greg and Pam Scholl are hoping to thrive on anger, stress and pent-up aggression.
It seems an odd way to make a living, but the budding entrepreneurs are the latest to fall in line with what's become a bit of a post-recession trend in random parts of the country and the world.
Just in time for the holidays, a season that inadvertently breeds vitriol as the family comes to town and worries can persist in a grueling push that lasts through New Year's Day, the Scholls officially have opened what is now the Valley's first "anger room."
They're the owners of The Wrecking Room, located in a small, nondescript building at 3781 Main St. (state Route 46). The business concept is simple but somewhat hard to believe.
"It's way over my head -- I can't explain it to my friends," said Greg's mother, Darlene Scholl, who fumbled to say just how she describes her son's business to those who ask. "So after Greg makes some DVDs, we're going to take them to our friends with some other literature so they can see for themselves."
Those DVDs will be taken from video cameras fixed on 10-by-10 rooms, covered in untouched sheet rock where onlookers can watch through bullet-resistant glass as customers destroy televisions, computer screens, beer bottles, furniture and almost anything else that might be fun to smash with a steel pipe or a baseball bat.
"The liability and insurance really isn't that bad, but we had to go through a lot of lawyers, landlords and agencies," Greg said. "When we told them what we were doing, they ran. There were a lot of hurdles to get this place open."
The Scholls had luck in Weathersfield, where the building they purchased has been vacant for years.
"You can only find one of these things online, and that's in Texas," said Marvin McBride, a Weathersfield Township trustee. "We've been pushing for more businesses along Route 46. This is great. They've got a great idea, and it's nice for the community."
Since about 2008, anger rooms have cropped up in places such as Dallas and San Diego. Even in Shenyang, China, a similar business caters specifically to women looking to vent by smashing household items.
Greg first got the idea in May, when he was waiting for Pam to get home from a late shift as a chef at Hiram College. "Nightline," a late-night news program, ran a segment on the anger room in Dallas.
So Greg, a self-employed jeweler for 30 years, looked into it and, eventually, Pam quit her job with AVI Foodsystems to get the business off the ground.
"I thought we needed something like this. I'm getting older -- she's getting older -- we need to have some fun and start something other people can have fun with, too," Greg said. "We think demand will be high for this, it's one-of-a-kind."
As Greg's mother described it, the endeavor has been a labor of love for the couple. After taking out a home equity line of credit to finance The Wrecking Room, Greg worked 16-hour days between his regular job and renovating the building.
Though the business didn't officially open until Nov. 16, the Scholls already have booked and hosted three separate sessions, and their customer base is starting to take shape.
Among The Wrecking Room's first patrons: a bachelor party, consisting of six members. The group unleashed a fury that Greg said made for a lengthy cleanup afterward. More recently, the Scholls played host to a couple celebrating their five-year anniversary.
Customers are required to wear a linen cover-all to protect against flying debris, and other safety equipment includes a hard hat and a choice between safety glasses or a face mask, the latter of which Greg suggests to ensure complete protection.
Once the smashing session begins, the cameras roll and music starts blaring. Swing at your own risk.
Rates start at four minutes for $20 or a 12-minute session for $40. The Scholls have been collecting detritus from the side of the road and taking donations for their customers to let loose on, but anyone with an appointment can bring their own items for a discount, depending on how much is brought in.
The Wrecking Room operates regular business hours Tuesday through Saturday, and its website, www.wreckingroom.com provides more information.
Still, the Scholls are busy answering questions.
"There's been a lot of questions about what we're doing here," Greg said. "I tell them, and a smile comes across their face. I think they're waiting for others to try it out first."
Recently, when Greg was at a local bar explaining the concept for his new business, a local was curious if he could bring in his sword for practice.
"I don't see why not," Greg told him. "I'll have to take a look at it, but it shouldn't be a problem."
The business also has been receiving strange calls. Greg said a bullwhip club was interested in making an appointment, at which point he scratched his head wondering if the 10-by-10 anger rooms could accommodate the length of a bullwhip. He was considering the request.
The Scholls hope to open a second location in Boardman to capture more customers.
But for now, they're focused on Weathersfield.
"I patch it up and clean it up," Greg said when he was asked if he'd suited up for some wrecking. "Eventually, I'll get in there."
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