An early morning fire at Blade & Timber’s Massachusetts Street location in Lawrence has left the premier axe-throwing startup waiting for answers, said Matt Baysinger.
“While it’s a surreal experience to learn that your business is on fire and that there’s nothing you can do about it, I’m incredibly grateful that nobody was in the store and nobody was hurt,” said Baysinger, co-founder and CEO of Swell Spark, the Kansas City-based startup whose experience verticals include Blade & Timber, Breakout and Choir Bar.
Blade & Timber’s Lawrence store opened in September 2018 at 809 Mass St. with a then-new grip on the popular brand’s concept — four lanes of axe throwing mixed with retailtainment: an experience that allows guests to try out some of the merchandise for sale.
An unexpected call at 4:30 a.m. Oct. 28 may have brought that swing of Swell Spark’s journey to an end, though the future of the store remains uncertain, Baysinger said.
“I went from groggy to wide awake real quick,” he described in a LinkedIn post about the blaze. “ … I am thankful for the first responders who helped contain the fire, as well as the numerous friends and colleagues who have checked in to see how we are adjusting.”
A cause for the fire had not yet been determined as of Friday, Baysinger told Startland News.
“Adjusters are still doing their research and there is an ongoing investigation,” he said. “We know the fire likely started in the basement (floor below us) and oxygenated and spread on the vacant floor above us.”
Swell Spark was named one of Startland News’ Kansas City Startups to Watch in 2018 in large part because of the company’s efforts to scale Blade & Timber. It now operates stores in Kansas City, Leawood, Wichita, Seattle and Honolulu.
In August, Blade & Timber — along with Swell Spark’s headquarters — relocated its Kansas City store from the business’ original site in the West Bottoms to a new space in the Power & Light entertainment district.
Click here to take a look inside Blade & Timber at Power & Light, which features 11 axe-throwing lanes and an expanded food and drink menu.
Baysinger is set to speak at 2 p.m. Nov. 18 during a presentation — Won’t you be my neighbor: The importance of shared experiences in entrepreneurship — during Global Entrepreneurship Week Kansas City in the 18th and Vine historic jazz district. The Oct. 28 fire is not expected to impact the co-founder’s scheduling for the event, he said, though lessons from the incident likely will be worked into the presentation.
Click here to learn more about planned GEWKC events.