A year in, Laurent Jacquard and Tanya Doucette have the market for escape room fun locked down in Coldbrook.
The brother and sister duo are satisfied with the interest the community has shown in Breakout 902.
The local business features three escape rooms that run a gamut of scenarios challenging one’s ability to investigate clues and solve puzzles. The tasks at hand range from finding ‘Aunt Edna’s inheritance,’ to escaping the clutches of a serial killer.
Jacquard and Doucette said their escape rooms have been exceptionally popular – especially considering there is plenty of competition an hour away in Halifax, and even as close as Greenwood.
“It’s definitely something people enjoy doing,” said Jacquard, owner of Breakout 902. “When (escape rooms) first came around, I wasn’t really interested, but when I got around to doing it with a group of friends, I thought, ‘Oh, that’s kind of fun.’”
Jacquard thinks the events are popular because they require teamwork to solve the puzzles and riddles involved, drawing on the abilities of every group member.
“It’s good to have a different crowd of people to help,” Jacquard said. “A mix-up of younger and older people would be great – that kind of thing.”
That teamwork is one of the driving forces that provides business for Breakout 902.
“We have a lot of businesses coming here to do team-building,” Jacquard said. “There are a lot of big corporate events, Christmas parties that kind of thing. The biggest group we’ve ever seen was probably around 40 people in here with all three rooms going at the same time.”
One observation Jacquard and Doucette both made was that business has been variable for Breakout 902.
“It’s been up and down, but any business is like that. The summer is a slower time, because it’s nice out and people are all outside,” Jacquard said.
Doucette, manager of the business, noted that on rainy days in particular, they get a lot of phone calls and bookings.
“The campgrounds are just down the road, and everyone is looking to get out of their camper and do something,” Doucette said. “It depends on whether it’s a pay week for people or not, too. For the last three weeks, Tuesdays have been busy.”
Jacquard said a good amount of their patronage has come from people from away.
“I wouldn’t say specifically people travel here just to do an escape room, but we have a lot of people who come down from New Brunswick and are looking for something to do,” he said. “When parents with kids at Acadia are down, they like to bring their families here as well.”
Word of mouth, coupled with social media, has helped put the Kings County business on the map.
“We don’t have the greatest street frontage, so it’s good to have word of mouth going for you,” Jacquard noted. “People have a good time and tell their friends and want to come back.”
Both Jacquard and Doucette were mum when the subject of a new escape room theme for Breakout 902 came up.
What they did disclose, however, was that the concept for a new room is still very much in its early stages.
“We’re working on a new room to swap out with one of the original rooms. We’re hoping that will drum up more business,” Jacquard said. “People who have already done all three are kind of waiting for a new one.”
Doucette said there has been a spike in bookings as people rush to try out the current escape room scenarios before they are replaced by new ones.
Jacquard said another path forward they have been considering is an expansion of their offerings.
“There may be a move next year to better suit our needs,” he said. “Right now, there are no immediate plans to expand, but we’re definitely not saying we’re never going to.”
Doucette said the siblings “are always tossing around ideas about travelling rooms,” and possibly altering current room scenarios to take them on the road and bring them to customers.
Portable escape rooms are another consideration.
“We could set up in someone’s office space, or a trailer we could bring into a parking lot,” said Jacquard.
He stressed, however, that nothing is written in stone at this point.