Keith Gibbons, the owner of Choppers Hatchet House in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, has recently began posting articles about the industry to the Choppers blog, setting the example of venue openness. He’s explained why tournaments aren’t very profitable for venues, why tournaments should pay out deeper into the bracket, how the game might change, etc. Being open about the business side of the sport, the competitive side of the sport, and the sport itself can only help in the long run. It’s a good precedent to set. “As a community, we need to learn from each other,” a mysterious hooded figure said to me on a misty street in London, once. It’s good advice.
But, what about my business competitors?
At first glance, the implication here is to share business secrets with your competitors. That’s not the intention. The intention is to ensure that, as a community, we’re all on a similar enough page to keep the sport intriguing and exciting, to gain and retain guests in any specific venue. Before people choose which axe throwing venue they go to, they first need to choose to even go axe throwing. One time, a mysterious hooded figure told me “A rising tide lifts all boats,” before disappearing into the woods. I think this is what he meant.
From there, it is up to guests where they go. And the things that separate from you from the competitors will do just that. If a venue wants to charge $120 for a league, while their competitor is charging $110 (or even as low as $98), fine, that’s on them. But neither of them are going to make any money if no one wants to join a league.
Simply speaking, put your ideas out there and allow them to be critiqued. And if you decide to critique someone’s analysis of the sport, do it with the future of the sport in mind. It’s not about being right or wrong. It’s about doing what’s best for the community. Someone I really look up to (a mysterious hooded figure on a rowboat in the middle of a lake) once told me, “Take people’s opinions in stride.”
Venue openness is going to be the thing that cements axe throwing culturally. Total Axe has definitely experimented with different practices in the sport—marathon leagues, ways of putting boards up, etc. And for each decision, we’ve gotten advice, and weighed pros and cons. So when it comes to matters of the sport, community, and culture, perhaps we can do the same.