American Dream Project

At least weekly, guests still ask me if we switch out our games often. I know why they ask, they wonder if Escape Rooms are like movie theaters, with different shows every couple of months. I recall wondering the same when we opened our very first games in 2017. Every community has to answer this for themselves, small towns have to change their games more frequently for sure maybe as much as every couple of years. In Asheville we have strong tourism, so we have yet to see a decrease in demand for our oldest games, so in 2021 I began to dream again of new games and sharing our passion with a nearby community.

One afternoon I ventured down to Hendersonville to their adorable downtown and dreamt of opening a game or two to share with this growing town. Unfortunately commercial real estate is nearly as obscene in this neighboring county as in my own. For a small business built from almost nothing, high rent downtown spaces were not a possibility. So I pulled into the nearest mall to check out the scene there. Since we now know the ins and outs of a Mall Location from our experience at the nearly completed buildout inside the Asheville Mall with 4 full games, why not?

I stumbled across a sign in one of the windows of this sleepy mall’s empty storefronts. “DREAM BIG HERE”, which an intriguing subtitle reading, “The Next Great American Pop-Up Shop Contest”. My entrepreneur spirit rose up inside, filling my mind with ideas. “Well, maybe our little Christmas Half-Game we just took down? I mean I am really good at filling out painful forms after the last few years navigating the Covid Crisis. Plus I can just decline if I win and don’t want to do it.”

What started as a pipe-dream turned into a new 3 year lease on a good sized unit big enough for 2 full-length games making a third location from Asheville to Hendersonville, just 5 years from opening in 2017. Our seventh game sells out nearly every weekend in this new Hendersonville space and our eighth game is underway. It is a great privilege to play with locals and travelers and reminds me daily that so much more is possible than most can dream. Maybe you have dreams too?