It’s midterm elections day, and West White (’11) is on the edge of his seat — not just for the results, but also for the potential upswing in business.
After all, White — along with his wife, Ashton (’09) — is the owner and operator of The BreakRoom. Opened Aug. 28 at 719 Wainwright St., it lets Denton denizens channel their aggression into a smashing good time. Unhappy about the midterm results? Try out the election-themed throwing room, where you can take aim at pictures of Ted Cruz or Beto O’Rourke. Stressed out about work? Unleash that anxiety with the satisfying shatter of electronics. Ready to purge all remnants of that pesky ex? Bring a box of framed photos and leave them as splintered as your former relationship.
“It’s a common thing — you get angry and you trash your own stuff,” says White, who earned a bachelor’s degree in hospitality management. “So why not build a business around that? This stuff is here for you to smash. You can come in, pay for five, 10, 20 minutes, and just demolish stuff. And you feel better afterward.”
In the almost three months since The BreakRoom opened its doors, White has seen customers relish the experience of physically venting their frustrations. Here, he discusses how he went from customer to curator — and the benefits of breaking (someone else’s) things.
Q: Where did the idea for The BreakRoom come from?
My wife took me to a room like this a couple of years ago. I was at a very high-stress job — I was just stressed out and angry a lot. She took me there, and I smashed something and was like, “Man, that felt good.” We did a 10-minute session, and afterward, I was like, “That was awesome, I feel great — there needs to be more of these.”
That same job that stressed me out laid me off after almost 10 years of working there — it was out of the blue, completely unexpected. My wife and I had been talking about doing something like this in Denton for a while. We talked to a friend of ours who owns RT’s Bar for financial backing. He thought it was stupid at first, but then he started asking around about it, and everyone said, “Wow, that sounds like a great idea, I’d love to try that.” And he eventually said, “Yeah, OK, here’s some money,” and we decided to open it up.
Q: You offer 25 percent off for teachers on Tuesdays, 25 percent off for servers on Wednesdays — how did you come up with the idea to offer these discounted nights to members of certain professions?
I spent a long time in the service industry. I know how stressful it can get. I know how hard I was on my teachers when I was a kid. I can’t imagine the daily stresses of having to deal with parents and other people’s kids — I imagine being a teacher is a lot like sitting on an airplane with a screaming child every year, year after year after year. Sometimes it feels good to just go in and bash something and walk out like, “Oh my god, that feels better.” And then you go back to your daily business. It took five minutes, and you’re good to go.
Q: Considering how satisfying it is to smash things, is it hard not to take advantage of your own inventory?
Sometimes, yes, I’ll just go in there and bash something just because. My wife — she works in real estate — she loves going in there. I have to try to keep her away. But she has a stressful job, so most of the time, I say, “OK, just go for it.”
The items we have are things people don’t want anymore. We’ll go around and do pick ups, if people call and schedule it. Today, I drove up and there were three pieces of furniture sitting out front, which I’m totally cool with. We get desks, other furniture, TVs, computers. We’ll find a way to trash or recycle it.
Q: Do you tend to see more men or women come in?
Lots more women. We get a lot of couples, but when larger groups come in, it’s been groups of women. As far as media is concerned, I know that this type of concept has been shown on The Bachelorette. I don’t know if that has something to do with it, that they already know what to expect.
Q: What’s the most satisfying thing to break?
Glass. Our throwing room is dedicated to breaking glass. Framed pictures, mirrors, clocks, bottles — you chuck them as hard as you can at the wall. I think it’s the sound, the impact. You spend your whole life trying not to break glass. But when you’re given a room where it’s expected, where you’re supposed to knock those pictures off the wall, it’s kind of like a weight is lifted.
Q: Why would a visit to The BreakRoom make a great gift?
It’s unique. Whether you buy it for yourself or somebody else, once you try it out, it’s one of those things that’s going to hook you. We all have those bad days. You have one of those, we’re here. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.
For more information on The BreakRoom, including how to book a session, visit thebreakroomdenton.com.