FARGO — After more than a year on the sidelines, Marcel Baumgartner decided it was time to get back in the ax-ion.

It’s why Baumgartner is re-opening Triple Ax, which had closed in 2020 during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic when the virus chopped through business. “No one came back,” Baumgartner told The Forum at the time.

With an appetite for recreation now returning to the metro area, Baumgartner decided the time was right to relaunch Triple Ax. This time around, she is the sole owner of the company, but said “a lot” of her old staff is returning.

The ax aficionado said she closely monitored North Dakota’s COVID-19 mitigation requirements as the pandemic progressed. Noticing other businesses reopening successfully, she decided the time was right for Triple Ax. “It looks like, based on other recreation places, people are ready to get back out and the state is OK-ing everything, so we were ready to come back,” she said.

The timing of the virus-induced closure actually proved to be fortuitous, Baumgartner explained. Triple Ax had outgrown its south Fargo digs, which had opened in 2019, plus their lease at the facility was coming to a close.

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Being able to shut down and wait out the pandemic proved to be a bullseye of a strategy for Triple Ax. “It kind of worked out well for us in comparison to other businesses,” Baumgartner said of the pandemic. “It worked out OK for us.”

As a result, Triple Ax is set to open Thursday, Nov. 4, at 2614A Broadway in the Northport Shopping Center. The larger space allowed Triple Ax to up its number of lanes from nine to 16, which Baumgartner claimed makes it one of the largest ax-throwing facilities in the world.

Though it won’t be available for next Thursday’s opening, Baumgartner is looking into adding food, beer and wine as another draw for customers. For the ninjas of the Fargo-Moorhead area, she’s also wants to offer throwing knives and throwing stars.

The cost is $22 per hour for one person or a group of up to eight can rent an entire lane, which has two targets, for $88 per hour.

Customers can expect much of the same experience, Bamgartner said, highlighting the training that Triple Ax’s coaches offer to newcomers. “It’ll be a lot of fun,” she remarked. “I know everyone who has come into our location has been able to stick an ax.”

“Everyone that comes in has a blast,” she continued.

She’s also hopeful the extra space will allow Triple Ax to accommodate the corporate team-building events for which the community had been clamoring.

Baumgartner is optimistic that a certain Bristol, Conn.-based television sports channel will even take notice of the new location’s size. Triple Ax will serve as the metro area’s official league under the World Axe Throwing League’s umbrella. “People are pretty hyped to get back into the official league,” she commented.

Those who perform well enough can advance to a national tournament, broadcasted on ESPN. Baumgartner is hoping any competitors that do will have a home-board advantage. “Our dream is to actually have them come to us,” she said. “We’d love to host that tournament here.”

While she’s awaiting a phone call from a Connecticut area code, Baumgartner is working to team up with local artists to deck Triple Ax’s new location out with murals and digital artwork.

Despite the fact that Triple Ax kept its mobile ax-throwing units active during the pandemic, Baumgartner is eager to return to a physical location. Triple Ax is one of three options for metro area residents to dive into the burgeoning sport. The others are Rough Cut Social, which opened in 2020, and United States Axe, which added a Fargo location over the summer.

By all accounts, Triple Ax devotees have been anticipating the return as well, with several inquiring when Triple Ax would come back. “We missed you,” Baumgartner said when asked what her message to her loyal followers was. “We’re ready to come back and we know they’re ready to have us again.”

With more lanes, food and drink options on the horizon and an anxious customer base, Baumgartner is ready to return. “We’re locally-owned, we’re women-owned, we’re the biggest location,” she said. “We’ve got all kinds of exciting stuff going on that I’m pretty proud of.”

Readers can reach InForum reporter Thomas Evanella at tevanella@forumcomm.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasEvanella