We liked to break things growing up. That new train set from grandma on our eighth birthday? Smashed to smithereens with a hammer. That G.I. Joe action figure? Roasted over a butane lighter until it was a gooey, molten mess. Our sister’s beloved Baby Alive doll? Let’s just say it never “ate” or “pooped” again.
Of course, we weren’t the only kids with a destructive impulse. Take Sarah Lavely. As a small child, she began venting her frustrations on Christmas ornaments and then escalated to potted plants. As a teenager, she was known to throw the odd telephone through her bedroom window. “During my divorce,” she says, “I broke a lot of stuff on my driveway.”
The difference between Sarah and the rest of us is that she has channeled her violent tendencies into lucrative new business.
At Sarah’s Smash Shack in San Diego, stressed out patrons undergo a weird form of therapy by chucking everyday housewares against a steel wall as hard as they can.
The idea, of course, is that it’s better to wreck other people’s stuff than your own. ”You get to come to my house, break my stuff, and I wont’ give you a hard time about it,” says Lavely.
But she will charge you for it. Customers order from a menu that includes items like The House Special (15 ceramic plates in 15 minutes for $45), the Six Shooter (six rapid-fire wine glasses for $12) or the Juggernaut (two large jugs for $12).
Her business is believed to be the very first of its kind. She had no precedent to follow, like what safety equipment was needed or how far back customers should stand. She’s since figured it all out and has even added a few twists, like providing black markers so customers can scrawl deranged messages on plates before they chuck them.
Lavely and her business partner started the company in August with $200,000 in capital. They’ve got only one rule for customers: If you buy it, you break it.