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June 20, 2019

Axe-throwing business is branching out

Blue Ox Axe Throwing wallingford Photo | Blue Ox Axe Throwing LLC

Hurling an axe at a target is fun and a great way to work out your frustrations, according to aficionados.

Ever since Blue Ox Axe Throwing opened in Wallingford last year, the business has been gaining in popularity.

Now, the owners are hoping the unusual entertainment venue will catch on around the country. On Tuesday, the company announced it is offering franchise opportunities to qualified candidates throughout the United States. Franchise owners will receive training on “all things Blue Ox,” including marketing strategies, and will also get ongoing support from the company’s senior management.

Gerald Ferraro, Blue Ox’s CEO and founder, attributed the franchising decision to “booming growth and increased industry recognition.”

The company is also expanding its corporate operations throughout the U.S., according to Ferraro.

“Axe throwing is an exciting way to socialize with friends, coworkers, and family,” Ferraro said. “There is something certainly exhilarating about getting the axe to stick in the wood targets. It provides an unwinding effect.”

According to Ferraro, it is popular because it provides an alternative to the typical weekend activities.

“It brings back the human experience by getting people together to try something new, interact, and compete against each other,” he said.

Axe throwing originated as a competitive sport in Canada and has become popular in several major U.S. markets.

Ferraro first tried axe throwing in Minneapolis at his friend Graham Kelley’s bachelor party. They liked it so much they decided to go into business together.

“Within minutes of our first throw, we quickly agreed that axe throwing was an activity that would thrive in New England and throughout the Northeast — and we were right,” Ferraro said.

After they got home, they met with Ferraro’s longtime business partner, Maggie Slivinski, to pitch the idea, and she also loved it. The trio started planning the new business, and Blue Ox Axe Throwing, LLC opened at 21 B North Plains Industrial Rd. in Wallingford last August.

Blue Ox plans to open up a second location in Bridgeport this summer and to expand operations to multiple locations along the East Coast this year.

Blue Ox allows customers to bring their own beer, wine, cider, seltzers and wine coolers but no hard liquor. Customers can book lanes for throwing sessions. “Axe Masters” are available to give advice on rules and technique.

The company’s goal is to award five franchises by the end of 2019.

“We are thrilled to be in a position to award franchises to qualified candidates,” Ferraro said. “Our concentration is on setting up the franchisee for success. That being said, any territory that fits our business model can thrive.”

Several New Haven- and Hartford-area companies have used the business for corporate team-building and holiday parties.

The owners also attribute their success to their diverse background in business. Ferraro is a serial entrepreneur and business operator. Slivinski has worked in the corporate-liability insurance industry, and Kelley’s background is in internet cybersecurity sales.

Read more

CT's first ax-throwing venue nears Hartford debut

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