Charlene Northon and her husband Kevin have owned and operated Central Escapes in Mt. Pleasant for just over three years now, but it wasn’t long before then that inspiration for the business struck as a result of family memories.
Charlene Northon defines an escape room as a “physical adventure game in which 2-8 players solve a series of puzzles and riddles using clues, hints, and strategy to complete the objectives at hand in order to find a way out of an actual room.” Each group of players is given an hour to escape, and if they can get out within the time period then they’re victorious.
Northon says that she drew inspiration for the business from the elaborate Easter basket hunts that her aunt would construct for her cousin. When she became a mother herself, she set up similar clues for her daughter with the number of clues based on how old her daughter was that year.
“She’s 26 now. I’ll still make her solve clues for the rooms. She double-checks some of my props,” says Northon.
Years later, Northon and her husband decided to visit every football stadium in the United States. On their trip to New York, they brought their children along with them.
“We told the girls ‘pick out something you guys want to do.’ My daughter picked out an escape room,” says Northon.
Northon says once they started solving clues, she was hooked.
“I was like oh my god, this is nothing more than Easter clues in a room. This is nothing more than clues put in a room strategically solved,” says Northon. “I was like, ‘I can do this. This is fun.’”
Afterward, she bought a notebook and started writing down ideas for clues and room themes and would create the scenarios in her basement to test them out. When she heard on the radio that the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) was offering classes, Northon took her chance.
“I told my husband ‘Hey, we need to go to these classes.’ So, we started taking the classes as they were telling us what to do in a business,” says Northon.
In November 2017, Northon and her husband put a deposit down on the vacant property next to Taco Boy on S. Mission Street. Three months later, Central Escapes opened for business.
Since then, Northon has seen many different groups come through Central Escapes. She considers Central Escapes to be a family-oriented business, but they also provide team-building opportunities and portable escape rooms for parties and events.
Central Escapes offers two uniquely themed rooms filled with puzzles and interconnecting clues that match each room’s theme. Northon is currently in the process of collecting props for new Central Escapes rooms, but they are still hosting two rooms: Escape the Games and Area 52.
To learn more about Central Escapes current offerings or to book an escape room, visit centralescapes.com.