By Kevin Bouffard The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) At "Smash Room" an individual will get a basket of 15 to 20 items -- glassware, lamps and other household items -- plus one electronic item -- such as a computer, printer, TV or monitor -- to smash for up to 20 minutes.
Lots of politicians have ridden on anger to elective office. And one local entrepreneur hopes anger will support a successful business.
But Tisha Strohmier, owner of the Smash Room in Lakeland, said she wants to relieve anger, not stoke it.
"I don't want to associate this business with negative emotions," she said. "Every person who goes into that smash room comes out and thanks me. They're so happy."
Donna Alexander agreed. She opened the Anger Room in Dallas in 2011 after running it out of her garage for three years.
"It does serve as a release for tension and aggression," Alexander said. "It works on you mentally, physically and spiritually. It's an additional outlet."
If nothing else, swinging a baseball bat or sledgehammer and breaking things offers a fun workout, said Tyana Daley, a spokeswoman who handles digital marketing for Smash Room.
"Some people come in here and say it's a great workout," said Daley, owner of Urbane Exposure, an Orlando digital marketing firm. "It is if you have to swing a sledgehammer."
The Smash Room opened at 2120 E. Edgewood Drive on Aug. 4, Strohmier said. It plans to open a second location in Tampa on Sept. 15.
The company offers a "smashing good time" to individuals or groups for up to 30 minutes, she said. Pricing depends upon the number of participants and what they want to smash.
Participants must book an appointment for the Smash Room on its website, smashroomfun.com, or by calling 813-368-0808. No walk-ins are accepted because the staff needs time to set up and clean up, Strohmier said.
An individual will get a basket of 15 to 20 items -- glassware, lamps and other household items -- plus one electronic item -- such as a computer, printer, TV or monitor -- to smash for up to 20 minutes, she said. The cost is $30.
For two people, each gets the same basket of items with 30 minutes to smash at a price of $60, or $30 each, Strohmier said. Larger groups will pay even less, down to $25 per person.
Other items are available to smash for an additional charge, including a dishwasher for $20 or a vacuum cleaner for $5.
The most popular items to smash at the Anger Room in Dallas are TVs and mannequins, Alexander said.
Alexander will also set up a whole room to look like an office, living room or other design, she said.
"The favorite room setting is an office," Alexander said.
Office equipment is particularly popular with groups of co-workers, Daley added.
"It's a great activity," she said.
One hurdle in the smashing business, in addition to her initial investment of more than $30,000, is finding the articles to destroy, Strohmier said.
"That's the secret to this business -- and the challenge," she said.
Some customers make donations, Strohmier said, and she gets other items from offices, schools and homes that are clearing out upon closing or relocating.
People often ask whether the Smash Room is wasteful, Daley said.
The short answer -- No. The company recycles everything after its destroyed, especially the electronics, she said.
"We're really sustainable, actually," Daley said.
The idea for starting the Smash Room came in January, when Strohmier got into an argument with her husband, Joseph Strohmier, who owns Joe's Motorcycle License Training of Central Florida in Lakeland and other locations, she said.
"I had some disagreement with my husband, and it made me so mad and upset. I thought, 'I want to smash something so bad,'" Strohmier said.
After resisting the temptation and calming down, the entrepreneur looked on the web, where similar businesses go by names such as "Anger Room," "Rage Room" or "Demolition Room," she said.
She had never heard of such a business before, Strohmier said, but the idea intrigued her. So she invested money she had made in real estate investments, primarily flipping homes, from her Tampa home.
Strohmier decided to open the first location in Lakeland because she had lived here for four years until 2010 while studying for a nursing degree at Polk State College, she said. But she decided the demands of a nursing career did not fit with raising a family.
The couple have three children, ages 2 to 12.
A search of the web indicates medical professionals have mixed feelings about destroying things as a means of relieving anger or stress.
The consensus among three experts from articles posted on the web appears to be the practice is not a long-term solution to dealing with anger issues, but it can offer short-term benefits. Better long-term strategies include counseling, meditation and trying to understand the sources of one's anger.
"There's no disputing that finding a way to express your anger is healthy," according to an article from the Cleveland Clinic and Scott Bea, one of its psychotherapists. "Repressed anger produces all sorts of problems. It can contribute to physiological symptoms or psychological symptoms like anxiety."
Strohmier and Alexander agreed their companies don't claim to be a substitute for professional therapy.
"Smash Room does not claim to be a mental help or medical facility," according to a disclaimer on its website. "We do not treat, give diagnosis or provide medical therapy of any kind. We are classified as entertainment only."
It may work in that regard, wrote Elizabeth Scott, a wellness coach with a master's degree in counseling, in her article on the website verywellmind.com.
"Studies show it's important to have fun in your life as a way to improve your mood, manage stress and maintain balance in your life," Scott wrote. "If it's fun for you to go out and break things, this may still be a much healthier activity for you than sitting at home and ruminating over what's making you angry. If it gets you into a better mood with a spirit of fun, you may want to go for it."