SJ Business Continues to Grow

Breakout Saint John: Escape to Fun

The entertainment concept is simple and somewhat addictive. Put players in a room and don’t let them out until they use clues to solve a series of puzzles in a certain amount of time. Breakout Saint John has built upon that concept since it first opened its doors in 2015.

“We have a huge following of customers who have done all our rooms and can’t wait for a new one to open. Most new people have no idea what to expect when they arrive and some are unsure if they will enjoy it. But, by the time they leave, they are so excited to come back again and surprised at how much fun they had. We get such wonderful reviews on Facebook and TripAdvisor,” says Breakout Saint John owner, Julie Pugsley.

Most escape room concepts want customers to experience what it might like to be inside a movie or video game for a short period of time and the puzzles and riddles heightened that experience. Right now, there are six different themed rooms and 4 portable games. Breakout also recently launched an app-based puzzle hunt in Uptown Saint John and worked with Leonty 3C to develop some corporate team building workshops.

“We’re always thinking and designing new ways to keep our customers wanting to come back for more!” says Pugsley.

One of the ways Breakout Saint John got started was with a loan administered through Enterprise Saint John. It’s now known as the Impact Loan. Eligible entrepreneurs can get up to $20,000 in a low-interest loan over 5 years and interest-free for the first 12 months.

“We used it to do our initial renovations in our current location and to set up our first 2 rooms. We would not have been able to open without this funding! We are very thankful for the support we received from both Enterprise Saint John and the Province, and I also received Self Employment Benefit funding through the Community Business Development Corporations (CBDC) as well,” adds Pugsley.

Two years later, Julie and her husband Matt are looking at getting a new location on the east side that will be more accessible and prominent to customers. It’s expected to open in late February or early March. Matt is hard at work designing the new room concepts for the new location. While that is going on, they’re still very busy at their current location with clients looking to use the spot for company teambuilding or holiday parties.

“This is our first time owning and operating a small business and we are so proud that we’ve created something that our customers love and come back for over and over! We love entertaining people and hearing their excitement when they complete a room or discover something unexpected in a room.”

When it comes to giving advice to new entrepreneurs, Julie Pugsley suggests they be prepared to talk to others who have done it before and be open to learning.

“There are some tremendously talented people in Saint John that are more than willing to help you out. Being an entrepreneur is certainly a lot of hard work and your life completely changes when you have a small business. It is kind of all encompassing. On one hand, it feels like you work all the time but on the other hand, it feels like you never work because you are so invested and love what you do so much. But, if you are willing to take the risk, being an entrepreneur is extremely rewarding,” says Pugsley.

It’s a rewarding experience and one that is constantly evolving. Right now, Pugsley is focused on the move to the new location in Saint John, but she’s also thinking five years down the road and the idea of expanding the business to other cities.