By Michael Bonner masslive.com
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Darcy Cook and her brother are the founders of, "Smash It 2." The business features four “smash rooms,” where people can come (for a price), swing a sledgehammer, and let off some steam.
A red oil drum sits in a room surrounded by mangled wood and shattered glass. The drum isn’t immune to the destruction scattered across the room. Several deep dents coincide with the word “COVID-19” painted on it.
Each bash of the drum with a baseball bat may have represented a canceled graduation, a missed birthday, an unemployment claim or worse, a loss of life.
The faceless coronavirus has affected every American and led to a sense of helplessness, stress and depression.
Smash It 2 in Worcester, featuring four “smash rooms,” has a chance for the public to decompress within the stressful times.
“Whatever their reasoning is, we want to be here to support them,” said Darcy Cook, who founded Smash It 2 with her brother, Joseph Ceccarelli.
The COVID-19 drum has endured more than a few strikes. But Smash It 2 offers items such as chandelier covers, windows, television sets, record players, vases and more to destroy within their rooms. Guests can also BYOB - bring your own box - to smash.
While letting out frustration with a swing of a sledgehammer is an obvious use of the space, the brother and sister duo sees the experience lifting past “rage rooms,” which they’re referred to in Europe.
“We didn’t want to call it a rage room because there are so many other reasons to break stuff,” Cook said.
Cook plans to host Smash It yoga, where downward dog and vinyasa positions are met with therapeutic yelling and smashing.
When launched, each class, Cook said will end with a beer or a glass of wine.
“You’re doing downward dog screaming. You’re doing the figure four yelling. You’re singing out loud. It’s loud music. It’s a release,” Cook said. “It’s a let it go release relaxing and bonding.”
The upstairs portion of Smash It 2 allows for larger parties. Beyond Smash It Yoga, Cook sees using the space for reveal parties. Smash a television that explodes blue or slam a computer that blasts out pink powder.
“Everything to me is about a relationship,” Cook said. “It’s about the moment in your life. It’s not about the stuff in your life. Here people are going to create moments.”
The notion is captured in facility’s name, “Smash It 2\u2033 which is a shortened version of “smash it together.”
Thursday night represented the first couple that reserved a smash it room.
As is usually the case, Ceccarelli said, the girlfriend booked the room for the couple. In their research, women rather than men participate more in smash rooms, Cook said.
After a night of destroying objects, they documented their memories on social media leading to one of their friends noticing and reserving a room.
The outside walls are living memories of those who smashed inside them. Cook and Ceccarelli want guests to sign their names on the walls and one day creating a mural that fills the entire space.
“We’re big on family. So to us the family model is an important model,” Cook said. “So when you see a couple come in or the father and son come in, we’re creating a memory in the life of that couple. We’re creating a memory for that father and son.”
For Cook and Ceccarelli, the couple smashing their televisions and vases released their own pent up stress.
Smash It 2 opened a day before Gov. Charlie Baker ordered non-essential businesses to close. Four months later, Thursday’s appointment acted as the first step in their idea became a reality.
“It’s mind-blowing and humbling,” Ceccarelli said. “Everyone has those million-dollar ideas and to actually have Darcy back it up an others to say, ‘yeah that’s a pretty good idea,’ it’s been a whirlwind but it’s awesome.”
Ceccarelli pitched the idea to Cook last November. He transformed an empty space into four smash rooms. By February the space was finished but occupancy permits were slowed by the coronavirus. When they finally received the green light from the city, the state said businesses had to close.
“Until [Thursday] night, I don’t sleep,” Cook said. “As a small business person you don’t sleep anyway, but if you’re a small business person launching a business in the middle of COVID-19 and everything you thought was going to happen can’t, you don’t sleep. And you pray a lot.”
Since Smash It 2 wasn’t an existing business, it wasn’t eligible for grants, Small Business Administration loans or the Paycheck Protection Program.
Since smash rooms are rare in the United States, and banks were hesitant amid the pandemic, lenders were reluctant to work with the idea. Costs continued, though, specifically insurance bills that were also weary of the idea and charged “astronomical” amounts for coverage.
Cook and her husband refinanced her house in order to pay for Smash It 2. “Here’s the deal, behind every female entrepreneur, is a really good husband,” Cook said.
COVID-19 also prevented Smash It 2 from becoming the first smash room in New England. Since February, a room in New Hampshire and in Avon.
The rooms are restricted to people 13 years or older.
One of the first people to use the smash room before opening was Cook’s 92-year-old grandmother, who is battling cancer for the fourth time.
“She’s lived through H1N1, she’s lived through COVID, the depression, she’s lived through it all and she came here and suited up,” Cook said. “She smashed the [crap] out of everything.”
Right behind the 92-year-old was her 14-year-old great grandson. A moment no one in the room will forget anytime soon.
___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.