Carrie Zavoral owns Downtown Axe, a new business in Grand Forks, which opened July 15. For 5 Questions this week, the Grand Forks Herald sat down with her to ask her about throwing axes and why people should try it.
Q: What is Downtown Axe, and what do visitors get to do?
A: We are an axe-throwing bar. People can either make reservations on our website, which is downtownaxegf.com, or you can just walk in. We will try and get you in that way as well. It’s been working really well. We also have a lounge, so that’s one thing people don’t know about us. People can just come in and have a few drinks, if they want. We have something for everyone.
Q: What are some of the safety precautions Downtown Axe takes to make sure that its location offers safe fun?
A: We joked that we should sell koozies that say, “Beer and axes – what could go wrong?” Because that’s what our lawyers said. Everyone was like, “Beer and axes? What are you doing?” We only serve beer and wine, so that helps. We also have what’s called an “axepert” during each shift who can come back to your lane and explain to you some safety steps that we need you to take to not get hurt. I hate to say no one’s been hurt yet, but everyone comes in and they act pretty responsible with the axes. We also have throwing stars. We don’t allow intoxicated people to play, and we train people to be responsible with the axes and stars.
Q: What kinds of difficulties did you face trying to open a business during the COVID-19 pandemic?
A: We had a few soft openings before July 15 with family and friends just get our feet wet. The main problem for us was lumber. As everyone knows, lumber prices skyrocketed this year, and our whole place is basically wood. We had to do a lot of hunting to find wood to do our build. We struggled a lot with shipping. I try to order something, and then it’s out of stock. We just had to have patience. Sometimes we’d order things or try to get it from somewhere locally, and then we’d have to cancel and search for something else, or we’d just have to wait. We really had to be proactive and order things super early, because we knew there would be a wait time.
Q: How would you describe the appeal of drinking and throwing axes and why so many people think it’s fun?
A: It’s fun to see people come in, and most of them haven’t thrown before. They come in, and they’re just so excited to try something new. I was helping some people this weekend. I had taught them how to throw, and they just couldn’t get it, so I would just stand there and give a suggestion or two. And then, they finally hit it, and they screamed and yelled. They were so excited, and it was just as much fun for us as it is for them. It’s a new joyful experience, I guess. I didn’t know if people would get too competitive and frustrated, but everyone’s just having a really good time with it. It’s something new.
Q: What should people know before coming to Downtown Axe?
A: We’re open Thursday through Saturday right now from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. The main thing we tell people is that they need to be 21 or older, and they have to wear closed-toed shoes, or we have some really bright socks that we will loan you for the night if you show up in sandals, because if they’re just walking around and come in, they don’t know they’re going to be throwing axes, and they might be wearing sandals in the summer. We have you sign a waiver, and then you start throwing.