New Stony Point axe throwing range aims for cut of entertainment market

Stumpy’s Hatchet House opened Wednesday at Stony Point Fashion Park. The axe range has 10 throwing lanes and serves food and beer. (Courtesy of Stumpy’s Hatchet House)

Cutting through the pitfalls of the coronavirus pandemic and a change in management at Stony Point Fashion Park, the mall’s new axe throwing bar has made its debut.

Stumpy’s Hatchet House opened Wednesday at the Southside mall, offering 10 throwing lanes in a 6,700-square-foot space on the Dillard’s concourse. In addition to axe-throwing, Stumpy’s serves food and has 20 self-serve beer taps.

Joe Szymczak, who is the franchisee of the New Jersey-based company’s first local outpost, said he had hoped to open in spring of 2020, but was derailed by two main factors.

“The pandemic, which caused everything to come to a screeching halt, and then the other thing we didn’t see coming was Starwood’s default and the change in management team,” Szymczak said.

Former Stony Point owner Starwood Retail Partners fell behind on its loan payments at the mall and lost control of the property to a special servicer last year. The mall is now managed by the Woodmont Co.

“Getting everyone on the same page (was a challenge),” Szymczak said of the management change. “There was us, Starwood, who we signed the lease with, and Woodmont, but also our contractor got involved. Everything got worked out.”

Stumpy’s Hatchet House at Stony Point Fashion Park. (Jack Jacobs photo)

Szymczak declined to go into greater detail, but said that essentially Woodmont wasn’t keen on some of the things Starwood promised him in the initial lease agreement.

The first Stumpy’s opened in New Jersey in 2016. The company’s website listed 27 locations and 12 upcoming locations on Tuesday, including two others in Virginia in Leesburg and Fairfax.

A one-hour session of axe throwing costs $25 per person. The Stony Point location has 15 employees but plans to bring on another five people.

Stumpy’s arrives as the latest entertainment-based tenant at Stony Point, in line with a trend among American malls away from the traditional retail-heavy experience. Stony Point is also home to escape-room concept Gnome & Raven.

As Stumpy’s opens its doors, Les Crepes restaurant has left its spot at the mall in favor of a new location at Gayton Crossing. The mall’s T-mobile store shuttered in December.

Though Stony Point has seen a steady trickle of tenants leave in recent years, Szymczak was bullish on the mall and the axe range’s potential.

“Stony Point has had its fair share of struggles during the pandemic and before it, but we’re confident in our location because this is a destination business,” Szymczak said. “We think we’ll bring in a younger crowd to the mall. You can’t throw an axe on the internet.”

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