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July 15, 2020 COVID Stories

COVID Stories: New smashing company works to overcome bad timing

Photo | Courtesy of Smash It 2 Darcy Cook, owner, and Joe Ceccarelli, general manager, of Smash It 2 in Worcester

Starting a new business is difficult, but in these strange times, difficult seems to be an understatement. For businesses such as Smash It 2 in Worcester, they face coronavirus related obstacles, while bringing a new business model to the community in the age of the coronavirus: breaking stuff. 

Smash It 2 is a business run by siblings, owner Darcy Cook, and general manager Joe Ceccarelli, and allows customers to break things brought to the Smash It 2 facility from their home, or break items provided by the establishment itself. 

“There are only a handful of our business models in the United States,” said Cook. “It’s mostly in Europe and Asia … It is a place where you get to come and break stuff for fun, and we clean up the mess.”

Breaking stuff only hits the surface of opportunities at Smash It 2. Yoga, art, and community experiences are also part of this new establishment. The siblings look to give back to the community through cancer and Alzheimer's disease fundraisers, as well as community outreach experiences such as art classes for kids, partnerships with breweries, and community events. 

“We have really had to change the business model, or really slow down the business model of engaging communities, and hiring employees, and raising funds for our community,” Cook said.  

Delayed opening

Before the coronavirus became a colossal impact on businesses in Massachusetts, Smash It 2 was supposed to officially open for the first time in February. Due to restrictions and pushbacks, this opening didn’t occur until July 6, when Gov. Charlie Baker lifted restrictions in the first step of Phase Three of his economy reopening plan. 

“We chose the worst time to bring a brand new concept that's never been done, into the market place in the middle of a pandemic,” Cook said. “That has been crazy.”

Due to the impact the coronavirus has had on businesses, Cook said Smash It 2 has had to overcome many obstacles, while simultaneously experiencing the delayed process of marketing, hiring employees, changing business model plans, forming partnerships, and planning events.  

With changing circumstances and the overall current business environment, Smash It 2 might have to change their overall business model plan. This includes shifting the overall focus to helping healthcare workers, and individuals working on the front line. 

“So what we might need to do, instead of creating something that is fun, and a new experience for people in the community, it might become a needed commodity in terms of a wellness program,” Cook said. “For people who are really stressed out, who have been overworked, who haven’t had a break.”


Cook and Ceccarelli’s safety training company background, further emphasizes the importance of safety in the opening process of their new business. 

“We have a very strict COVID policy that falls in line because, through scheduled appointments or individual rooms,” Cook said. “We are a safety company, we have all the safety equipment, cleaning, disinfectant protocols, we know how it all works.” 

To help employees at their safety training company, also impacted by the coronavirus, they plan on hiring them to work at Smash It 2 as well.

“Our safety company staff also has been impacted so we will be using our employees and hiring them as second jobs to help give them income,” Cook said.

Financial support has also been an obstacle Smash It 2 has had to deal with. Due to the timing of the pandemic, it has been difficult to receive financial aid, such as loans or the federal Paycheck Protection Program, which was set up for established businesses. 

“We've been denied and not qualified for PPP, for employees on payroll right,” Cook said. “We have not been qualified for disaster loans, because we are a new business, we don’t qualify for any of the grant funding. So the struggle for Smash It 2 is we have been carrying overhead for six months, and had zero revenue coming in.

“We have to ramp up very fast, because our business plan and cash flow model have been crushed, and we don’t have support and we can't get support because of the pandemic impact,” she said.

Community support  

A large takeaway Cook has garnered from the opening of Smash It 2 during the pandemic is the power of community support. 

“I have learned as a business owner to reach out to the community,” Cook said. “So I needed help, and I went and asked for help, through the chamber of Commerce, and some other resources, and the response, in the last two weeks, to help us, has been unbelievable, it’s been amazing.

“We’re open, we’re ready to go,” she said.

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