How SCORE helped. 

Some readers might assume that SCORE RI only assists small businesses in Rhode Island. But in fact, our chapter also services South Coast Massachusetts. Several of our volunteer mentors and subject experts are located and active there.  Here is one interesting example of a Fall River, MA small business that took advantage of SCORE.

In 2019 Kim and Bryan Besse turned an old mill warehouse into a hatchet throwing entertainment venue called Stumpy's Hatchet House (www.stumpyshh.com/fallriverma). They recently participated in a question-and-answer session in which they described their business and their journey.

What exactly does Stumpy's Hatchet House offer?Stumpys

Stumpy's offers 1-hour, 2-hour & 3-hour hatchet throwing sessions.  Every guest receives the safety rules and instruction from one of our throwing coaches.  Our location is BYOB (no hard liquor), and we provide buckets of ice for our guests’ beverages.  After the throwing session is over, we invite groups to hang out in one of our Lumberjack Lounges and play any of the many old-school games we have (e.g., Giant Jenga, Foosball, StumPuck & Giant Connect 4). 

Who are your typical customers?

Stumpy's is a great location for a celebration, be it bachelor/bachelorette party, birthday, gender reveal, engagement, anniversary, retirement, or divorce.  You name it, we can celebrate it. 

We draw guests ranging from 13-80 years old.  We offer bi-monthly Lumber Jack Jr. events for teens aged 13-17 & their adults, College Nite every Thursday for 18+, and specialize in birthday parties that are unique and fun for all ages.  We see a LOT of surprise parties for 30-, 40- & 50-year-olds as our venue is so different from anywhere else ... it makes for a very special event.  Prior to COVID we were just starting to ramp up our presence in the corporate team building and holiday venue business.  We are now seeing a return to this and have been hosting 1-2 businesses per week since December.  Some come in as a Private AXEperience during our off-hours, while others prefer to come in during our regular hours. 

Aside from celebrations, we find ourselves being a place for a lot of first dates. We have even had couples come back to celebrate their anniversary here since they had their first date with us.  We have even hosted two weddings thus far. 

How did you get started?

The original Stumpy's Hatchet House was started in Eatontown, NJ in 2015. We had been familiar with it because Kim's cousin is related to two of the founding members. They would give an update each time our family visited her.  Her excitement about her stepson’s endeavors (one of the founders) was contagious and we found ourselves looking forward to hearing how Stumpy's was growing. 

In 2018, Kim faced a career choice and found out that Stumpy's was franchising. She looked at Bryan and said, "I think we should look into this."  We had always considered owning our own business and the idea of opening a hatchet throwing venue in the town (Fall River) where Lizzy Borden was born and an infamous axe murder (actually it was a hatchet) took place seemed to make all the sense in the world.  So, it was settled.  We signed onto the franchise and got busy coming up the money to fund our startup. We used our own collateral to start the build out and months later received financing from Webster Bank. We opened our doors on June 1, 2019. 

What has been your biggest challenge to date?

We were only open for nine months when COVID restrictions shut us down.  With the support from our mentors at SCORE, we secured financial help through the various programs such as PPP, kept our employees on payroll, weathered through the next three months, and re-opened at half capacity that summer.  Then we were moving along and growing our customer base when it was announced that we would be required to have a 9 PM curfew.  This was probably the most devastating mandate for our business which sees its peak sales between 8-11 PM on the weekends. 

How big is your business now?

Despite all the mandates, we continued to grow and prosper with more and more customers hearing about us through social media, cable television, radio commercials, and word of mouth.  We started with only seven part-time employees and now have ten.  Four of our employees started out as customers who became regulars.  They loved it here so much that they decided they would also love to work here!  

How has SCORE been involved in your journey?

SCORE was involved in the entire spectrum of mentoring and educational support to a startup business. We met Dennis Callanan when he was presenting SCORE at a SEED “How to Start a Business” workshop. Several weeks later we called SCORE to set up an initial meeting to develop a business plan with the goal of obtaining a business loan. After we opened for business, we followed up about issues with our accounting systems, so Dennis brought Bill Cunningham to a co-mentoring session. Bill worked with us for months on accounting and financial issues until everything was running smoothly. Later, during the pandemic, SCORE worked with us to help our business obtain PPP and EIDL loans.

SCORE volunteers are available to assist you with your startup and small business endeavors. Feel free to reach out to us at www.score.org or call 401-226-0077.

For more than 50 years, SCORE has helped more than 11 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in more than 300 chapters serve their communities. 

Stumpy's Hatchet House Owners