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New Manly Venture Allows Customers to Break Things

New Manly Venture Allows Customers to Break Things Photo: Facebook.

July 06, 2019 01:44 PM

MASON CITY, Iowa (AP) — Go in. Pick a service. Sign waivers. Suit up. Choose an instrument of complete and utter devastation. Start smashing.

Those are the guidelines set by Smashology, a new business venture in Manly that lets folks show up and, well, break stuff.

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The rage room occupies space in M&M Auto Services Car Audio, which Manly resident Adam Mahlstedt runs along with Alex Anderson.

At this point, the shop itself is still a work in progress. A blue tarp is hanging for entrance into a side room where Mahlstedt and Anderson store some of their smashing essentials.

Mahlstedt said that ever since they got the place, empty, in October 2018, it’s been a process.

“We’ve had to redo everything, slowly working our way through. There was a hole the size of a car in the roof.”

Once some of the repairs (which Mahlstedt said were “hellacious”) were done, they started thinking of extra uses for the space. It wasn’t long before they landed on the rage room idea.

“One of our friends brought it up and was like ‘Why don’t you open up a rage room because there’s not one within a couple hundred miles of here?’ and it was like ‘sure, let’s take a swing at it’,” Mahlstedt said.

Rage rooms, where customers pay to go into a room and break items with a sledgehammer or metal bat or candlestick, have been around since at least 2008.

At that point, people in Japan could go to a “venting place” and expend some energy. In that particular case, a story from the Telegraph framed it as a way to “ease recession blues.”

But rage rooms didn’t just stay in Tokyo or disappear once the economy slowly rebounded. They spread steadily to Egypt and Canada and Serbia and, eventually, the United States.

In 2018, they became trendy enough for Vice to do reporting but mainstream to the point where a sustainable rage room in American Fork, Utah, (population 29,527) was possible.

And now Mahlstedt and Anderson are getting into the burgeoning industry and hoping their venture is a smashing success.

At present time, Smashology seems to be the first rage room in the Hawkeye State but they’re not coming up with everything whole cloth. There’s a sort of formula to follow.

Televisions are an absolute no-no (chemicals). Forms are a necessity. Cleanups happen between sessions.

And there are package deals.

The base level is what Mahlstedt and Anderson named the “Rage Starter Session” where one person gets 15 minutes to let loose on “5 small items, 3 medium items.”

In that case, Mahlstedt said that they supply the breakables but customers can also bring in a box of their own accessories to safely demolish.

“We supply all of the smashing tools. One of our packages is to bring your own breakables and pretty much you can bring a medium-sized box in. We kind of use similar packages to other rage rooms that are across the country,” Mahlstedt said.

From there, the various packages slowly increase in price and time allotment to get the bruising done. At the far end, eight people could team up to bash nearly 100 items.

Mahlstedt said that they’re already stocked with beer bottles, wine glasses, bowls and such but they’re still working on getting a ton more stuff.

Depending on how things go, Mahlstedt said they may eventually make the car smashing stage from the Street Fighter games a reality and let people go to town on an old junker. “Take a bat or sledgehammer to that. That’s something we’re thinking of because different rage rooms across the country use those.”

According to Mahlstedt, that kind of beating is productive and even sort of beneficial.

“It’s a way to de-stress. A healthy way to de-stress,” he said. “And a way to get out anger and frustration. You can break anything from glass to printers to dressers using a sledgehammer, crowbar, baseball bat.”

And there’s some support for that.

A 2017 article for the Cleveland Clinic flatly states that “There’s no disputing that finding a way to express your anger is healthy.”

Cleveland Clinic Psychologist Scott Bea is quoted in the article as saying that there probably is a discharge of pent-up emotions in the moments that someone is in the thralls of a smash room but they’re likely short-lived.

“Smashing stuff might give you some short-term relief, but it won’t do much to help you solve chronic anger problems,” Bea said in the article. “It’s important for people to take responsibility for their actions and to learn different ways to react.”

But if someone is just there for fun, it’s less of an issue.

For now, Mahlstedt and Anderson are running Smashology 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. during the week and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays (same hours as their car business).

If things expand, there’ll be a chance for customers to come in and break coffee tables, roll top desks and even window panes from a barn (which Anderson salvaged from his grandpa’s property).

The possibilities of what to break are nearly limitless.

KAAL-TV

(Copyright 2019 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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