Hoping for a Bullseye
Feel like throwing something? How about an axe? Stumpy’s Hatchet House brings a new form of entertainment to the CBD.
Hatchet or axe throwing is on course to become one of the biggest, fastest-growing new trends in the U.S., according to a December 2019 report from CBS News.
The pastime, which originally started in Canada, has found quick success in the United States, with young adults using venues to celebrate, compete and create bonding experiences. According to the report, “Consumers spent more than $6 million on axe throwing experiences through Square sellers in 2019 — a 317% increase in sales compared to 2018.”
New Orleanian Kevin Cunningham, along with wife, Helena, son Kevin, Jr., and daughter Sydne, are the family behind Stumpy’s Hatchet House’s first Louisiana location, which opened on Nov. 6, in the heart of the CBD at 1200 Poydras St. The two-story location features 10 throwing pits and a private party room.
The Cunninghams are betting that the concept will be a natural fit for fun-loving, thrill-seeking New Orleanians.
“While working in the Philadelphia area, our son, Kevin Jr., had the opportunity to visit a hatchet throwing venue. He had a great time, it was packed, and he thought this activity would be a natural fit for New Orleans,” said Kevin Cunningham Sr. “That same weekend, our daughter, Sydne, sent us a video of a group of people throwing hatchets and indicated it was something we all should get together and do.”
At that point, Kevin and Helena decided to do some research.
The family settled on franchising with Stumpy’s Hatchet House, a nationwide franchise headquartered in New Jersey that currently includes 27 locations, with 11 more listed as “coming soon.” Franchises are heavily concentrated on the East Coast, but spread into Florida, Texas, and now Louisiana. The company was founded in 2016 by two couples who got the idea after an impromptu game of axe throwing during a backyard barbecue. Stumpy’s marketing says it focuses on creating a casual, fun environment for anyone, regardless of experience level with the sport.
“Stumpy’s Hatchet House is a family affair; this is very important to us,” Cunningham said. “The vibe…is more of a hatchet-throwing lounge, where people can come to a relaxed and comfortable pit area, kick back and have a great time.”
While Stumpy’s does not currently provide food or alcohol, plans are in the works. BYOB and take-out or delivery from nearby restaurants and pop-ups is encouraged.
“We are in the process of applying for our alcohol permit, and once received will sell beer, wine, hard ciders, seltzers,” Cunningham said. “We are considering adding additional food items to our menu; however, as of now, we only serve nachos, hot dogs, popcorn, chips and candy.”
Anyone 18 and older is welcome, and instructors are on hand to provide the basics needed to get started. Because of the nature of the hatchet-throwing pits (each pit is more than 6 feet wide), Stumpy’s offers a safe-distanced environment for those looking for an activity for their COVID-19 pods.
Groups of one to four people can rent a pit for $25 per person, per hour. Groups of five or more are strongly recommended to reserve a two-hour time slot at $40 per person. Discounts are available for active duty military, first responders, teachers and healthcare workers.
Reservations can be made through the company’s website (Stumpyshh.com), but walk-ins are also welcome.
Launching Stumpy’s has been the first leap into entrepreneurism for this family, each of whom has an educational background in law. Cunningham Sr. is a partner in governmental relations firm Southern Strategy Group-LA; Helena is the CEO of National Housing Consultant Services, LLC; Kevin Jr. is an associate with the Philadelphia-based law firm of Keller Topaz; and Sydne is a 2020 graduate of Tulane Law School and an associate with the firm Roedel, Parsons, Koch, Blache, Balhoff and McCollister.
Cunningham Sr. said the experience of starting a family business has so far been overwhelmingly positive.
“Starting any new business has its challenges; starting it with family adds another layer of complexity,” he said. “With four strong-willed and creative individuals adept at formulating and making arguments to support their position, there were certainly disagreements. However, that process has allowed us to create a unique entertainment venue that we are all proud of as it encompasses all of our input and ideas.”
The Cunningham family is betting that New Orleanians will embrace the chance to hang out in a new way.
“This city embodies the idea of ‘When is the last time you have done something for the first time?’” said Cunningham Sr. ” It’s always fun to see our customers’ reaction to our space. Our favorite part is seeing someone hit their first bullseye. Their excitement is contagious and gets everyone pumped up.”
Did You Know?
Axe Throwing Has Quickly Gone Global
Created in 2017 to bring Canada’s axe-throwing clubs together and legitimize the sport, the World Axe Throwing League (WATL) now includes 334 affiliates spreading in more than 22 countries. The league hosts multiple tournaments, including the World Axe Throwing Championship, the latest of which took place in Atlanta from Dec. 4-6, and was televised on ESPN.
Benefits of Hatchet Throwing
– Burns calories (up to 400 an hour)
– Promotes camaraderie across ages and genders
– Improves coordination
Source: Stumpy’s Hatchet House