Sarah’s Smash Shack

    Earl Warren College junior Amanda Lazar, decked out in head-to-toe protective gear, flings shot glasses in one of the “break” rooms at Sarah’s Smash Shack. (Jimmy Kan/Guardian)

    Anxious about that impending biochem final? Swimming in a sea of sources for a massive research paper? Sarah Lavely has a simple solution: break stuff. Turning stress and frustration into a quirky business endeavor, Sarah’s Smash Shack gives everyone the chance to indulge their pent-up emotions and excess energies by smashing, shattering, crushing and destroying all things breakable.

    Located between Ash and A Streets in downtown San Diego, Sarah’s Smash Shack looks more a cross between swanky fine-china shop and hip art boutique than a safe retreat where the emotionally frazzled venture to blow off steam. The small storefront and walls splashed with orange paint provide just enough room to display the shack’s gleaming breakables — this is where you meet Hey Hey (the brown shop poodle), sign your life away on a one-page waiver, select the items you’d most like to break and suit up in a protective red coverall, ’do-rag, gloves and mask.

    Once suited up, a tatted-up Sarah or ponytailed Ed will lead you to one of two “break” rooms. The first is located in the storefront and has room for either a solitary smasher or a destructive duo. The second room, for groups of six to eight, is located at the end of an adjacent alleyway. A glowing neon sign leads you to this VIP room and — as always — urges you to “break more stuff.”

    Indeed, within these spaces you can wail on everything from dishes, shot glasses and ash trays (to help you kick the habit) to vases and picture frames. You can even bring a poster or blown-up picture of your worst enemy or ex, and Sarah will pin it to the wall so you can play target practice on said enemy’s face. She’ll also provide plenty of Sharpies to scribble a few spiteful words on all that stuff you plan to shatter.

    To further enhance your smashing session, each room comes equipped with an MP3 hookup. Bring music that will pump you up — say, Limp Bizkit’s “Break Stuff” — or, better yet, music that will piss you off (try Lil Wayne’s “Mrs. Officer,”). The only potential jolt from the experience will be the fact that Ed is required to watch you through a wide window at the front of each break room in the event that you decide to pick up a shard of glass. Or, if you go too heavy on the layers that morning, things could get nasty under your coveralls.

    While one session could be cheaper than a visit to a therapist, it could be as pricey as unrestricted retail therapy — and leave you with some serious buyer’s remorse. There are some reasonable packages — like the “Create Your Own” deal, allowing you to choose any three side items for $33 (this could include a set of 10 dishes, two vases and six shooters) — but the other packages, like the $29 Mystery Box or $35 Smash Shack House Special, only include 10 items.

    Sarah does offer the option of bringing your own stuff to smash, but this is just as costly — 10 of your own items for $20. If the volume of items in each of these packages seems modest, you’re right. If you don’t pace yourself, your session could be over within the span of one track off your iPod. After you’ve smashed to your heart’s content, however long that may end up being, you can wrap up your angst and keep it as a memento — Ed will sweep up the shards, spiteful scribbles and all, for an extra $10.

    For a new way to shake the stress of finals, get over a messy breakup or vent after having worked retail on Black Friday, give Sarah’s Smash Shack a try. Sarah understands that sometimes you just need to break something.

    Sarah’s Smash Shack
    1353 6th Avenue
    San Diego, CA 92101
    (619) 702-8488

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