Entrepreneur
Franchise Competition Profit Hatchet House Image Credit: Entrepreneur
Franchise Competition Profit Hatchet House Image Credit: Entrepreneur

How To Build An Ax-Throwing Empire

How fast can a successful small business transform into a national franchise? Stumpy’s Hatchet House wants to find out—because although it hit on  a hot idea (throwing axes!), the competition isn't far behind.

Clint Carter

Jon Charlton might be a hatchet-throwing prodigy. On the helicopter pilot’s second-ever throw, the hatchet swings one perfect rotation, handle over blade, and sinks into a target 12 feet away. On his third throw, he hits the bull’s-eye. Thunk! The sound is deeply satisfying.

His wife, JoyAnn Charlton, is a different story. Her hatchets bounce off the target at unpredictable angles and clatter to the concrete floor. She gives up quickly. No matter. She and Jon didn’t really come to Stumpy’s Hatchet House to throw hatchets. They came here, to this otherwise sleepy industrial part of Eatontown, N.J., because they’re in the market for a turnkey business that will make them money while allowing them the free time they need to raise two kids. And they believe a hatchet-throwing franchise may be just the thing.

“Jon and I have been exploring the franchise route,” says JoyAnn, who also happens to be a franchising attorney. “We live all the way out in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and we had two friends on two separate occasions talk about getting a group together to make a trip here.” The buzz piqued their interest, so they came to meet the owners on a “discovery day.” This is an unusual referral. But Stumpy’s is an unusual business, to say the least. Its customers show up in groups—birthday and bachelor parties are most common, but the business host


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