Kansas City-area business lets people destroy things

Sunday, May 10, 2009

LEE'S SUMMIT, Mo. -- Laid-off. Bills piling up for his family of four. A stress-induced argument with his wife.

Paul Brown was so steaming mad he could throw something. So he did.

The drinking tumbler shattered against the wall, notching it but at least not going through the sliding glass door inches away.

Brown looked at the ruins and felt good. And then he felt inspired.

The former software engineer opened Smash-N-Shatter on Thursday in downtown Lee's Summit to provide "cheap therapy" to other frustrated folks.

Demonstrating the service, the seemingly mild-mannered Brown donned a camouflage flight suit, pulled on rubber boots and removed his glasses to slip on a paintball mask. As the shirt and tie disappear, so does the mild manner.

"I go Rambo here," he said, taking a look in the full-length mirror. "Woohoo! This is fun."

In the "Smash Room," Metallica is blasting on the CD player. Brown scribbles the words "work sucks" on a dark blue plate and then flings it at a shooting target.

The plate explodes against the steel wall, and he flings a few more.

Brown heads across the hall to the "Shatter Room." He draws a sad stick man on a piece of drywall set up against a mattress, writing "TPS reports here," a reference to all the work office employees do just to keep managers happy.

Whap! A baseball bat smashes into the drywall. In case that's not yet enough, he produces a hammer and finishes it off.

Brown said friends who have tried it were timid at first. But they loosened up after one or two smash-ups.

Several people strolling by on the downtown street Thursday stopped to peer in the windows. Some patrons at area bars have promised to stop by this weekend after a few drinks.

It's cheaper than therapy, Brown said, but that may depend on just how frustrated you are. Prices range from $14.95 to fling a dozen shot glasses to $69.95 for a full package including both Shatter and Smash rooms and 16 dishes. Heart-shaped plates are available to celebrate a breakup, and patrons can bring in 10 or more of their own breakable items for $1 a shot -- including cleanup.

Brown got his first customer early Thursday afternoon. She had just been fired from a day-care center. She split a shot glass package with a friend.

Francisco Matos made the trip to check it out as a possible Mother's Day present.

"We lost my dad a year ago and just recently she said, 'I just want to break stuff,'" Matos said of his mother. "So I hope it will make her laugh, make her cry."

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