Can you beat the room? 5 Questions for Ashley Boswell

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Ashley Boswell, co-owner of the Grand Forks Escape Room. (submitted photo)

For 5 Questions this week The Herald speaks to Ashley Boswell, co-owner of Grand Forks Escape Room, located downtown at 200 First Ave. North.

Q: Please tell us a little about yourself, and how long you have had The Escape Room.

A: I opened the escape room in August 2016. We opened it because we like to travel. We had heard about escape rooms and we like challenges and puzzles, then we learned about this. After doing it, we just fell in love with it, and we talked about how good of a job the rooms that we had done were; whether the companies did such a great job, or whether they're big or small. Some people make their own room. We also thought about ways that we would have done it. Then the wheels started turning and we just researched a little bit, and realized there weren't any escape rooms in Grand Forks at that time.

Q: Tell us a little bit about the business. How does it work? What do people do when they go to the escape room?

A: It's a team game so you're all working together, and you just solve a series of clues to be able to escape a themed room. The game is an hour, unless you beat the room early. It's hard to gauge the difficulty, but you have to work through it.


Q: How has the coronavirus pandemic impacted your business?

A: We abruptly shut down without any say, so it impacted us. We get our business thriving in March and April, because it’s cold. I guess we lost revenue and we have not really received any assistance from any of the SBA yet; it's all pending. It set us back, but we have some plans to try to either come up with more advertising, or try to come up with some fun things to get people in the door.

Q: Your rooms are themed. Are you working on any new themes?

A: Not right now because we just finished two. We put a lot of time and effort into it and we will be reopening one of our newer rooms, ‘Back to the 80s,’ which was only open for a short amount of time before we closed that location. That room we actually purchased in Texas. It's our only room that we actually bought premade. It’s probably our most interactive room, and you work through the puzzles and then, eventually, if you do a certain thing, it's going to trigger something to open. Everything is very nostalgic for anybody who's lived in the '80s, or even early '90s. Any of the players who don’t know about the '80s; everything you need to know is in the room, so you don't need to be an '80s baby, or '90s baby.

Q: Do you offer any discounts?

A: We do not give discounts, however, we do give free admission to anybody on their birthday with a photo ID. In lieu of a discount, we do offer a pay-upon-arrival option, which sets us apart from other escape rooms. College students who want to get a group of six people, might not be able to afford to pay for six people, and then get reimbursed (from their friends) later. We do that so people can arrange groups of friends and not have to make it awkward, and they can pay when they get there.

Adam Kurtz is the community editor for the Grand Forks Herald. He covers higher education and other topics in Grand Forks County and the city.

Kurtz joined the Herald in July 2019. He covered business and county government topics before covering higher education and some military topics.

Tips and story ideas are welcome. Get in touch with him at, or DM at @ByAdamKurtz.

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