Experiential Retail Gets Mad: Guests Pay To Break Stuff In 'Rage Rooms'
In cities across the country, a recent trend in experiential retail is giving new meaning to the phrase, "You break it, you buy it."
Spaces where paying customers come to break household items and electronics have popped up in Dallas, Chicago, New York and Florida, according to reports from the Wall Street Journal and the Chicago Tribune.
The business model does not require much in the way of build-out or design; one such venue in New York near Penn Station called the Wrecking Club consists of little more than windowless rooms with tile floors and metal walls, the WSJ reports (noting helpfully that proximity to one of the most infuriating transit hubs in the world might be good for business). But as with other forms of experiential retail in their infancy, and perhaps more so, landlords have been reticent to give such establishments prime space.
The longest-running such place, according to the Tribune, is the Anger Room in Dallas, founded in 2008. A similar concept operated in New York in the 1970s, the WSJ reports. A second location of the Anger Room is reportedly planned to open this month in Kentucky. In Chicago and New York, the openings seem to have come in pairs, with the Rage Cage operating just a few blocks from the Wrecking Club near Penn Station and the Rage Room and Shatter Zone in different neighborhoods of the Windy City.
As one might imagine from such an anarchic practice, the business models vary from place to place. The New York locations offer pricing tiers based on time spent in the room and the type and number of items destroyed, while the Anger Room invites customers to bring their own destructibles.
Sourcing the items for the Wrecking Club and Rage Room has been a catch-as-catch-can endeavor, with the owners trawling Facebook and Craigslist for busted items to smash or buying cheap kitchenware from IKEA and dollar stores. They then turn over the remnants to recycling services, which is more sustainable, the Wrecking Club founder told the WSJ.
Though startup costs are relatively low for the austere businesses, the WSJ reports, insurance payments are costly. Until enough smash-'em-up storefronts come along to make the concept more commonplace, a standard industry practice for rents and risk management may not exist.