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Natosha Adams demonstrates how to properly grip a hatchet before throwing.

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Natosha Adams, manager of Scout Northwest Trading Co. in the Seaside Outlet Mall, demonstrates how to throw a hatchet at the wooden stall inside the store.

As store manager Natosha Adams demonstrates how to throw a small hatchet and hit a wooden target in the stall at Scout Northwest Trading Co. in the Seaside Outlets mall, she shares several tips on aim, force and arm position.

“It’s a lot harder than it looks,” she explained, gathering the hatchets from where they struck inside the large red circle on the wall. “There’s a science behind it.”

And yet, that’s an integral part of the fun: the challenge.

The right touch

Jerome Black remembers trying hatchet and axe-throwing at a county fair in Georgia, before he co-founded the original Scout location in Lincoln City with his wife, Gitl, in 2017.

“I was kind of like a kid at a carnival,” Jerome said, adding he was immediately hooked and spent upward of $50 to play for hours.

As the couple developed their new brand, Black began envisioning how to incorporate the activity into their establishment. That’s how they wound up with three indoor cages that accommodate knives, axes and hatchets at their Lincoln City headquarters.

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Natosha Adams, manager of Scout Northwest Trading Co. in the Seaside Outlet Mall, demonstrates how to throw a hatchet at the wooden stall inside the store.

The stalls at the Scout location in Seaside are a relatively new addition to the store, which itself was created in 2019. Black and his son, Daniel, 17, built them earlier this summer.

Even now, Adams said, many customers aren’t aware of the hatchet-throwing component until they get into the store. On the other hand, some people come looking for it because they are familiar with the Lincoln City store and have tried out the sport down there.

Scout has one stall with two lanes and only offers hatchets, but according to Adams there are plans to eventually expand the stalls, install benches and add the other throwing instruments.

They started with hatchets, Black said, because they are lighter than axes and require less precision than knives, creating a slightly shorter learning curve.

“It’s relatively easy to get to a place where you’re having fun,” he said.

Building a brand

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Scout Northwest Trading Co. has two hatchet throwing stalls with plans for expansion.

Scout’s hatchet-throwing stall itself has become an eye-catching feature, with the signatures of past patrons covering the wood walls and spilling onto the floor.

However, it is a suitable companion to Scout’s overall brand, which encompasses a distinctly Pacific Northwest flair. Their inventory includes stickers, patches, apparel, reusable water bottles and flasks, pocket knives, lip balms and soaps, home goods and other outdoor and adventure gear.

More than 90% of the store’s products are made by the Scout brand at their headquarters in Lincoln City. They also carry other well-known outdoor lifestyle brands, like Hydro Flask and Grundens and items made by other regional purveyors.

The walls are decorated with artwork from local artists, augmenting the distinctly community centric flavor of the store.

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Natosha Adams, manager of Scout Northwest Trading Co. in the Seaside Outlet Mall, demonstrates how to throw a hatchet at the wooden stall inside the store.

Those qualities are “all Jerome and Gitl,” Adams said.

Both have a background as graphic designers, and Black has done retail installation construction in the past. Using that accumulated experience, they opened Scout to have more control of their products and ideas.

“It’s been working really well,” Black said.

Although their team has expanded exponentially — particularly with the two locations — the couple is still highly involved in the business, as are their young adult children. They’ve also brought some local artists and craftspeople directly onto the team to support them in creating the quality and quantity of goods necessary to keep the stores stocked.

Expanding to Seaside was a logical choice, although they’ve received an abundance of feedback asking for an additional store in Bend.

“It fit our brand,” Black said, adding their original vision was for a coastal vibe. “Everything seemed to make sense.”

A wide-reaching appeal

Scout is open from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week, with the hatchet-throwing stall open concurrently. The cost to play is three throws for $5 or 10 throws for $10. Patrons also can reserve or rent the facility for $45 for a half-hour session of $80 per hour for parties or family get-togethers.

There is no age restriction, but Adams said they gauge whether a child can participate in the activity safely and also have a positive and fun experience. Before paying the full price, she said, they let young kids throw a test or practice one to ensure they’ll receive the full value of the activity.

The employees implement several safety practices to mitigate the risk of harm, such as not allowing spectators to be in the stall and having players remove hatchets from the target before collecting ones on the floor. They also opted for wood handles, rather than rubber, to prevent the hatchets from bouncing back, and Black developed a wood handle that is more durable.

Each component, he added, is designed to ensure the activity is as safe and family oriented as possible, appealing to a wide range of demographics.

“The people that do it are all ages, guys, girls, all styles,” he said. “It is very well-received.”

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