The “Coming Soon” sign is coming down at 4919 Courthouse Street. AXE REPUBLIC has arrived. Opening festivities will take place October 25–27, according to business-owner Nikki Montero, who has leased the property. Have you experienced axe throwing? This centuries-old sport, with ties to knights, Vikings and lumberjacks, is known to evoke primal competitive feelings in participants.
“And, it’s really fun,” adds Nikki. “Axe throwing can be enjoyed by both men and women and a wide range of age groups. You don’t need any special skills to throw one.”
That’s something she discovered herself when she was introduced to axe throwing by a friend for her birthday. At the time she was exploring options for a new venture, and immediately delved into some intense research about the flourishing axe throwing rage. Before long she was convinced that this rapidly growing sport would be a great fit for New Town.
More and more sports, from rock climbing to sky diving to pickleball, have created indoor versions that can be experienced year round in climate controlled indoor space. Participation is not weather dependent. Devotees are able to maintain training year round and entrepreneurs can count on steady return from their business investment. Add axe throwing to the list of newly “indoor” activities.
The New Town location is ideal, Nikki noted, citing the convenient parking, proximity to shopping areas, Colonial Williamsburg, the college and other places where she might draw interest. “Most local residents of all ages maintain active lifestyles. The movie theater, restaurants, pubs and fitness centers, all contribute to a lively nighttime vibe. Sidewalk traffic is abundant in this walkable community and that increases our visibility and our chances of walk-in business,” she said.
Nikki Montero, the sole owner of AXE REPUBLIC, is confident about her own abilities and brings a unique set of skills to running the business. She has traveled widely as a former military wife, worked in the stock market arena, been a stay-at-home/active-in-the-community Mom, and most recently worked as a school nurse with Williamsburg/James City County Schools at D.J.Montague Elementary.
Nikki Montero, owner of Axe Republic, in front of a target.
Opening celebration will take place October 27 - 29
Her enthusiastic support team includes husband Eddie, who owns and operates two The UPS Stores; their college-age children, CJ and Hannah, who are enrolled at UVA and JMU; parents Ron and Francine; and, other family, friends and community associates. Friends and family members assisted with the demolition process, removal of debris, painting and construction of lanes; while contractors created a kitchen suitable for handling the food and beverage needs.
Though axe throwing is quite safe, safety is taken seriously. Precautions and lane rules are reviewed before guests enter the throwing area and lanes are monitored. Come prepared – all players must wear closed toe shoes (no high heels or sandals allowed). No intoxicated person may throw. And, should you own an axe, leave it at home. Except in League competition players must use house axes.
Each of 12 throwing lanes accommodates 2-6 players at a time. A single walk-in customer might pair up with another single player who is hoping for a match. Larger groups can reserve multiple lanes. Booking lanes online is recommended (www.axerepublic.com). The minimum age for axe throwing is 14 years. Groups that contain 14- to 17-year olds must include at least one playing adult. The cost to throw is $27 per person for 75 minutes of lane time.
Novices will be able to learn how to throw an axe on site and then consult with those experienced Axe Coaches - called “Axeperts”- as they play.
Montero shares today’s consumer preference for “EATertainment” venues, those that combine activities with food and beverages in one place (29%, according to a survey conducted by research firm YouGov). AXE REPUBLIC is designed to be an all-in one place entertainment/recreation establishment.
The interior ambiance at AXE REPUBLIC is a mix of rustic features and modern industrial surfaces created with both wood and hi-tech materials. Wire fencing, metal mesh and poles, and wood panels define the boundaries of the throwing lanes. At the head of each lane there is a raw wood backdrop displaying a large round target outlined in black with a bold red bulls-eye at the center.
Nikki says, “The comfortable lounge area has a different vibe. It is separate from the throwing lanes, but has a view of them. Watching the competition is part of the excitement.”
The lounge is furnished with high top tables and stools Here patrons can enjoy gourmet hot dogs, cookies from Celli’s Chocolate Chips and other exceptional snacks and varied beverages including craft brews from Virginia Beer Company. “Some patrons will visit us to demonstrate their existing skills; others, to learn the art of hurling an axe at a large wooden bulls-eye target,” she said. “Games can be friendly rivalries, or fierce competitions. It’s up to the players. There may be customers that come in just for the food and beverages,” Nikki anticipates.
When it comes to attracting customers, Nikki Montero sees many possible directions. “We expect AXE REPUBLIC to be an exciting date night destination. The novelty aspect of axe throwing will draw in some curious folks and also position us as an interesting venue for birthday, bachelorette, office parties and other events. I envision business colleagues coming in after work. College students should find this a great place to have fun – my own kids included. Groups of friends or couples could meet here before a movie or stay all evening. This will be a lively place where tourists and families can get something to eat and drink and either watch others play or join the games themselves. It works on so many levels,” she said.
Defined by distinct shapes and forged from varied materials, axes have been used for centuries in many capacities – as tools, weapons and even as amulets to protect crops from bad weather. It’s not hard to imagine how throwing these implements became a competitive pastime for those who handled axes regularly and had time on their hands. Yet today, axe throwing is a rapidly growing craze that captivates all sorts of participants, many that have never handled a tool of any sort.
“Everyone wants to experience something that’s new and different,” suggested Nikki.
League competition has encouraged interest in and promoted skill building for bowling, archery and many other individual and recreational sports. Now leagues are being developed for axe throwing. AXE REPUBLIC Williamsburg has affiliated with the World Axe Throwing League (WATL). This means that local players can join competitive league matches on Tuesday nights beginning with the 8-week Winter Season that starts January 14, 2020. Local winners will qualify to compete in regional and national contests.
In a press release announcing the lease of 4919 Courthouse Street, Kelly Voss of Developers Realty, the company that manages New Town’s commercial properties, expressed her pleasure with the new business, saying, “We’ve been searching for the right user to activate this corner location for some time and believe we’ve hit the bull’s-eye with AXE REPUBLIC!”
Drew Haynie, of Cushman and Wakefield | Thalhimer said, “Nikki is a true entrepreneur and an energetic early adapter bringing a fantastic and nationally trending new concept to New Town.”
He also offered an upbeat projection about the potential impact of this new business, stating, “Watch for more entertainment/EATertainment and family friendly concepts coming to Main Street in 2019. New Town Main ownership has really made a big commitment to keep the center relevant and dynamic by attracting fresh offerings and hot concepts that offer something for everyone.”
One final note: Nikki Montero is not only an entrepreneurial business owner in New Town, she is also a resident. She and her husband reside in the Village Walk neighborhood. She says it’s an added bonus that she can now walk to work, so keep an eye out for her on the sidewalks and give her a welcoming shout!
AXE REPUBLIC HOURS
Tuesday: Leagues/ Special Events
Wednesday–Thursday: 5 – 9 PM
Friday: 5 – 10 PM
Saturday: 11 AM – 10 PM
Sunday: 12 NOON – 6 PM