Self-help gurus and therapists love to tout the idea of finding a constructive outlet when life starts ticking you off. Sometimes, however, you just need a destructive one.
That's where Outrage MKE comes in.
Tucked away in a warehouse at the end of a dirt road, Outrage MKE, 4828 S. 13th St., lets you step up to bat – literally – and release your frustrations on a whole room of breakables during 5- or 15-minute sessions.
"All of us have had bad days – I know I have," said Outrage creator and owner Shauna Gabriel. "You come home from work and you're thinking, 'If I could just take this dish and throw it across the room, I would feel so much better.' This gives you the chance to do that – and not have to clean it up."
Gabriel and her small team can assemble pretty much any combination of items a customer could want, from office supplies (for those who want to live out their own "Office Space" fantasy) to electronics and table settings.
"We try to make it look very nice, not just something that you just go in and break," said Mario DeLuca, Outrage's marketing director. "If somebody wants to request something, we'll try to accommodate anything."
The Outrage concept is new to Milwaukee, but the idea of offering a controlled environment in which customers can release their destructive energy has already taken off elsewhere.
"In Japan they have these areas that they call 'smash shacks,'" said DeLuca. "They found out because of the work environment and the economy, the stress, that people just needed a little bit of an outlet. What they did is they had these semi trailers, and you could purchase plates or cups and you could throw them inside of the trailer."
Outrage MKE has expanded on this idea, setting up pre-made rooms – often with requested themes – ripe for the smashing.
"One of the requests that we had was to set up the table like a dining table," said DeLuca. "The person was a server, so maybe they didn't tip well and she wanted to take it out on that."
Gabriel, DeLuca and their team have been pretty resourceful in order to find supplies for their customers' demands.
"We have a pretty large group of people who are always helping us dig through the garbage to find stuff," said Gabriel.
"We do look at rummages," added DeLuca. "What we do is we'll give the owner a flyer and say if there's any materials or household items they don't sell, instead of trucking it off to Goodwill, give us a call and we'll come by and pick it up at no charge."
On top of reusing people's unwanted household items, Outrage is also diligent in recycling what they can when they're done.
"Whatever we get, we recycle it," said DeLuca. "We work with a couple different recyclers for computer parts, electronics, wiring, steel, plastic, glass ... we're all about sustainability."
And so far, there's been plenty of scrap material to recycle.
"It's a ton of fun," said Gabriel. "When people come with their friends, all of a sudden the friend will be like, 'Wait a minute, now I want to do this!'"
Outragers pay $30 for a regular five-minute session, or $40 for a larger 15-minute session. Those times may not seem like much, but customers definitely get their money's worth.
"We've found out that people are exhausted after awhile. Probably about eight minutes," said DeLuca. "Some people can't even lift their arms."
Of course, Outrage MKE isn't actual therapy. It does, however, make for a great release for everyday stress, and so far it's been a big hit (pun intended) with men and women ranging in age from 20s to 50s.
"We've actually had a lot of women here," said Gabriel. "Women are more of the yellers. We've noticed that they come in and they're usually calling someone a name, or they're like, 'F you' and 'I hate you.' That kind of stuff. Men just smash."
Outrage MKE has only been open since June, but as business continues to pick up Gabriel and DeLuca plan to expand their Milwaukee location and hope to add other locations in Madison and elsewhere to accommodate bigger rooms, more diverse themes and a larger client base looking to smash the stress away.
"Some people can exercise, some people can read a book, some people can come here and smash things," said DeLuca. "We have the outfit, gloves and goggles, making sure that it's a safe environment. It's fun, it's unique, it's no pressure. Just let loose."
"People say it's bad luck to break a mirror – well, we've smashed mirrors and we're still going."
Contrary to her natural state of being, Renee Lorenz is a total optimist when it comes to Milwaukee. Since beginning her career with OnMilwaukee.com, her occasional forays into the awesomeness that is the Brew City have turned into an overwhelming desire to discover anything and everything that's new, fun or just ... "different."
Expect her random musings to cover both the new and "new-to-her" aspects of Miltown goings-on, in addition to periodically straying completely off-topic, which usually manifests itself in the form of an obscure movie reference.