Ring the Bell

Life Begins at the End of Your Comfort Zone

There is nothing like the thrill of letting a metal hatchet fly out of your hands into a wooden target. At Stumpy's Hatchet House Green Brook, when your hatchet hits the bull's-eye, you’re gifted the opportunity to ring the bell, alerting all hatchet throwers of your achievement. The exhilaration and sense of accomplishment is a rush that can’t be explained. It must be experienced. Monica and Mark Milan, owners of Stumpy’s, give us the backstory on how their business came to be and why it’s one of the fastest-growing recreational activities in the country.  

Two years ago, Monica and Mark were searching for a business venture. One of Mark’s friends reached out to him about a new concept, indoor hatchet throwing, and suggested he buy into the Stumpy’s franchise, which only had one location at the time.

Mark told his friend, “That sounds great, but I need to make a living,” and hung up the phone. 

Mark’s friend was persistent, though, and let him in on a little secret. Stumpy’s had been filmed for a Shark Tank segment, and they were working through the specifics of a lucrative deal. At the time, Monica was on vacation in Spain, where Mark would soon be joining.

Mark called her on vacation and asked, “What do you think about investing our life savings in hatchet throwing?” Monica’s epic response was the catalyst that brought Stumpy’s Hatchet House Green Brook into reality.

“Seriously—do it! You’ve almost done dumber things.” 

Years earlier, Monica and Mark were both diagnosed with severe Lyme disease. For Mark, it became neurological, but Monica was given the prognosis that within 10 years she would likely be wheelchair-bound. Supporting each other, they aggressively fought the disease and now both are nearly symptom-free. This experience gave them a new lease on life, and this is why Monica supported Mark and advised him to jump at the opportunity. He signed the territory agreement for the franchise the next week without ever having visited a hatchet-throwing house. 

Finding the right location for Stumpy’s was the couple's first hurdle. After searching for more than eight months, they were lost on their way to a birthday party and accidentally took Route 22 instead of Route 78. It was then that they stumbled upon the old Capital Lighting building, which was the perfect location for their new business. In June 2018, they opened their doors, and the customers quickly followed. 

Today, Stumpy’s provides countless hours of entertainment. Guests are invited to bring their own food, beer and wine. Hard liquor is not permitted. While it’s the perfect birthday party and rustic date night location, Stumpy’s really shines in their team-building events. Local businesses, corporations and charities bring in groups to bond and learn to work together better—all while hurling axes at a target.

There are varying ability levels in every group, from naturals to those afraid to even pick up a hatchet.

“That’s when the magic happens," Mark says. "The confident people become supportive of those who are really hesitant, and you see their encouragement turn into camaraderie and competition. People see this side of their coworkers that they might not see at work, which gets people to blossom and bond together.” 

At Stumpy’s, safety is paramount, and the operation is tried and true. The throwing areas are properly caged, and rules are strictly enforced. Customers follow the instructions, and there have not been any accidents. (Knock on wood!)

“People come with their friends and family," Mark says. "These are people that they care about and don’t want to see get hurt.” Above all, the staff is highly attentive and truly cares about the customers and their safety.  

Recently, Monica and Mark attended the first annual Stumpy’s corporate franchise meeting, where—among 35 franchisees—they took home four out of six awards, including Stumpy’s Franchise of the Year. They will soon be opening two new locations in Hudson County, New Jersey, and Rockland County, New York.

Monica and Mark took the plunge into the hatchet-throwing world to escape corporate America and to live happier, present lives with their two children. They have hit life in the bullseye and are ringing the bell. 

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