Local alumni launch cutting edge business
WILLIAMSPORT – A popular sport typically demonstrated at lumberjack competitions, axe throwing has spread to urban cities like New York, with the closest businesses in Pennsylvania located in State College and Harrisburg.
Building on the momentum of the trending hobby, Marshall Winters and his wife, the former Jennifer Larsen, anticipate opening The Hatchet House in order to bring the sport to northcentral Pennsylvania. Interest in the sport is already being noted by the proprietors, who’ve had customers schedule group reservations and purchase gift certificates in advance of the store opening July 1.
“We were kicking around a few business ideas and came across axe throwing,” Marshall said, who immediately suggested it to Jennifer. “Don’t you think we should try it [axe throwing] before we start a business?” Jennifer said, recalling the initial conversation.
And try they did, visiting in- and out-of state establishments, before agreeing that Lycoming County needed to be introduced to the past-time.
The business, located at the intersection of Market and East Fourth Streets, Williamsport, is inside the historic Masonic building, with easy parking access for patrons. Eye-catching logos displayed on the large store front glass windows at 362 Market Street were designed by Jennifer, “a marketing genius,” Marshall states with pride, and pay homage to the couple’s alma maters; Jennifer, who graduated in 1997 from Muncy and Marshall, in 2003 from Montoursville.
First and foremost, the two have gone above and beyond to ensure a safe experience for the public.
The establishment features seven individual barricaded lanes; both sides and the top are enclosed by thick gauge wiring to ensure protection to customers. Throwers stand 12 feet from the target and toss an axe weighing less than 2 pounds towards the bullseye, Marshall explained. Similar to the game of darts, points are awarded for hitting the designated ringed areas on the target.
Brand-name hatchets of varying weights and assorted handles are provided, although Marshall said patrons may use their own tools if they meet company requirements.
“We’ve personally tested different brands and weights of hatchets,” Marshall said. “We don’t just throw anything-we want people to be safe.”
The couple also firmly believe in choosing area craftsmen and businesses in the interior renovations, including three Montoursville residents: Tye Johnston, of Johnston Painting Company, Jared Wolfe Contracting, LLC. for the interior design and buildup, and woodstain artist Nathan Beitz, who provided stainwork on the interior wall logo and reception desk.
Behind the lanes are grooved table top slabs, fashioned by Raffael Colone, of the Woodrich Company, Cogan Station.
Others skilled in graphic design and technology have also been tapped by the Winters to assist in launching the business, including White Horse Graphics in Unityville, Graphic Hive of Williamsport, which provides the t-shirts which are available for purchase; and Shana Eichenberg, proprietor of Bathvs, who is designing the website, www.pahatchethouse.com.
The Winters recently hired 10 employees called “axe”perts to assist those new to the sport and in facilitating the “snaxe bar” area, where patrons may purchase bagged edibles to enjoy while viewing the lanes. Customers may provide their own beverages, limited to beer and wine, as no other alcoholic spirits are permitted on the premises.
On Monday and Tuesday, the venue is open by reservation only for large groups and fundraising events, while hours on Wednesday and Thursday are 3:30-10 p.m., Friday, 3:30-11 p.m., Saturday, noon-11 p.m., and Sunday, noon -5 p.m.
For more information, contact 570-800-2937.