Escape 605 expanding downtown, adding axe throwing

April 23, 2018

Escape-room business Escape 605 is adding a downtown location and bringing axe throwing to Sioux Falls.

The latter is what it sounds like: Participants throw small axes at targets and compete to see who has the best aim. Think darts but with little hatchets.

The combination business is going into the former Ming Wah space at 119 W. 10th St. and is co-owned by Adam and Amy Stockberger and Dustin and Stacy Hoffman

“So it will be a one-stop shop for team building, entertainment, family fun and special occasions with room to lounge,” Amy Stockberger said.

They first opened Escape 605 in 2016 at 3718 S. Westport Ave. and then expanded to The Empire Mall.

They had been planning to bring the entertainment downtown and decided to add axe throwing after doing some research. The new business, Escape 605 Axe Throwing & Escape Rooms, will have six axe-throwing lanes with two targets each. Each can fit 12 people.

For 15 minutes, participants train with “axperts” and then have an hour to throw. The concept is taking off nationwide, Stockberger said. She was inspired by one version that had a “posh, fun, high-end lumberjack feel.”

Design plans are being finalized, but the business has built a sample axe-throwing lane just up the block from its future location to show how it works.

There also will be axe-throwing leagues, and research has shown 60 percent of people gravitating toward the activity are women.

“It’s just a really fun way to blow off steam. And the time flies,” Stockberger said.

There will be escape rooms on the main floor and in the basement, which they’re designing with a speakeasy feel, she said.

Both areas will be served by a bar offering beer and wine plus outdoor seating.

“It will be fully stocked with a huge selection of beer. We’ll try to stay with local taps and a wide assortment of wine and all the gluten-free things like spritzers that everyone is liking,” Stockberger said. “And we’ll have a coffee bar because corporations are a driving force of our escape rooms, and this is another avenue for team building.”

Both activities can be fun for anyone age 8 or older, she said.

“It’s up to parental permission. We’ve been to several axe-throwing businesses where kids are right next to their parents. Axes aren’t heavy. They’re like little hatchets, so it’s pretty easy for everybody to do it.”

The hope is to expand the business to other locations, she said.

“It does so well, and it’s such a fun business model, and people are really yearning for activities to do. Whether it’s with families, for special occasions or team building, there’s such a need out there for fun recreation.”

The Ming Wah space has attracted a broad range of potential tenants since going on the market in 2015, said Scott Blount of Lloyd Cos., who leased it.

It’s owned by builder Justin Skogen, who gutted the building similar to another he owns nearby, MacKenzie River Pizza. Knowing how that space turned out, Blount said he was confident Ming Wah ultimately would be another successful rehabilitation.

“We always liked it, but it’s hard for people to visualize how good it can be,” Blount said.

“Not everyone has that vision when they walk into a space. From a real estate perspective, it’s all about location, and Amy Stockberger realized this was a very good location for what she wanted to pursue and will give Escape 605 a lot of exposure. As the weather turns nicer, people are out and about walking around, and it will give tremendous exposure — more so than the escape rooms people drive by.”

The plan is to open axe throwing as soon as possible this summer and follow with the escape rooms. In the meantime, Stockberger set up the demonstration lanes in the former QT Cakes space west of her new location. It mostly will be used to help promote what’s coming.

That space could be filled in the coming months, too.

“I probably show the space at least once a week,” said Blount, who also has it for lease. “It gets a lot of activity.”

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Escape 605 expanding downtown, adding axe throwing

Escape-room business Escape 605 is adding a downtown location and bringing axe-throwing to Sioux Falls.

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