At most stores, if you break it, you buy it. But at the WRECK Room soon to open in Hampden, you buy it to break it.
At the business, which owners Aaron and Caycee Polun hope to open this summer, participants will be able to don protective gear and smash everything from Donald Trump bobbleheads and Pittsburgh Steelers memorabilia to flat-screen TVs and overhead projectors.
“This day and age we spend so much time doing virtual things and looking at screens that people crave some very experiential, tactile type of amusement,” Aaron Polun said. “Couple that with the daily frustrations of life and it just seems like a fun thing to help blow off steam.”
It’s part of a growing trend of “rage rooms” spreading across the country, although Polun prefers to use the term “smash room” instead.
“We don’t want people coming who are enraged,” he said. “We want this to be a fun thing.”
Polun compares the smash room, among the first of its kind in Baltimore, to the demolition during the first 15 minutes of a home improvement project.
The prices aren’t set in stone just yet, Polun said, but participants will pay roughly $35 to $40 to smash a box full of breakable goods like bottles, picture frames and figurines. They can also purchase additional items, like electronics and memorabilia, or bring their own box of things to smash with WRECK Room’s baseball bats, hockey sticks and sledgehammers.
The business will provide hard hats, face shields, coveralls, gloves and goggles, as well as the cleanup. But it’s the environment at WRECK Room Destructotherapy that will make it worthwhile, Polun said.
“You could watch something on Netflix, or you could go out to the movies. They’re both basically the same thing, but one is more of an experience than the other,” he said.
Participants can book an appointment ahead of time or simply walk into the store, which will be on Keswick Road, he said.
The business is planning promotional days aligned with the school schedule at the nearby Johns Hopkins University to encourage students to blow off some steam. And it’ll offer a 25 percent discount to customers who come in on the anniversary of their divorce or that same day, Polun added.
Customers can also get a discount if they donate items to WRECK Room, Polun said. Otherwise, Polun said, he picks up items at yard sales, at Goodwill stores, at auctions and through Facebook groups.
Polun said he hopes the group can partner with local artists, who could use the broken items for art projects, and local businesses, who could provide coupons and prizes for the business’ “extreme piñata” offering.
Polun’s search for a storefront began in Towson, but he said many people he spoke with there expressed trepidation about the dangers of such a business. So he moved on to Hampden, where he and his wife settled on a former art gallery space they thought would be perfect for WRECK Room.
“People in Hampden understand different,” he said.