An experiential retail concept outside of Boston is winning fans young and old.
A trip to the mall does not usually involve solving mysteries other than where you parked the car—unless you’re a visitor to 5 Wits Patriot Place in Foxboro, MA (a Boston suburb).
5 Wits is an experiential retail concept that leads visitors through one of two stories that require solving puzzles and mental challenges in order to advance through the adventure, solve the mystery, and complete the story. Currently the location at Patriot Place hosts two adventures: Espionage—a mystery that takes visitors inside a spy organization to find a mole; and 20,000 Leagues—an underwater mystery that takes visitors aboard Captain Nemo’s Nautilus, a Victorian-era submarine. Patrons are led through a series of staged rooms by a guide who’s also an actor charged with bringing the story to life for the participants. The adventures are hands-on puzzles and challenges; but not at all physically challenging so they can be enjoyed by most skill levels and ages.
Each show lasts about an hour and has numerous possible endings. Although 5 Wits is set up to host the same two adventures, Joe Botsch, Marketing Director & Manager, says that they make minor adjustments to the shows regularly to keep the stories, puzzles, and mental challenges fresh. With each show having five different endings, customers can come back for multiple visits and have a different experience each time. Botsch says they get lots of repeat business as well as customers new to the concept.
Both adventures are family-friendly and children are welcome. According to Botsch, the adventures are particularly of interest to kids ages 7 and up. 5 Wits does not leave the adults out though, as the stories and level of difficulty can be adjusted by the guide based on the ages and interests of each particular group of visitors. Additionally, they host adults-only sessions for customers who would rather not mingle with the younger crowd. Shows can accommodate up to 15 people and start continually throughout the day in 15 to 30-minute intervals. Visitors can purchase tickets in advance online or at the door. The establishment can arrange catering and offers special deals to attract groups. Botsch says 5 Wits is a popular destination for birthday parties—kids and adults—as well as school field trips and corporate groups that are looking for team-building outings.
The 5 Wits concept
As a concept, 5 Wits has been around since 2004 when it operated in a building near Fenway Park in Boston. At that location it hosted an adventure that was set in ancient Egypt. The concept was eventually sold and 5 Wits created two new adventures and opened at its current location, in Patriot Place, in 2010. Patriot Place is an outdoor mall that combines mainstream retail stores with many dining options, entertainment, and attractions. To add to the attraction, the mall sits adjacent to Gillette Stadium, home to the New England Patriots NFL football team. Botsch says that on days when games or events are going on in the stadium 5 Wits does get quite lively and very busy. “People are looking for something to do because they often come early on game day so they come visit us and go through an adventure or two before the game starts.” He offers special deals on game day; ticketholders can get show tickets for just $10. Regular priced admission is $18 for adults and $14 for kids or $28 and $23, respectively for two shows. Botsch says 5 Wits is unlike anything else at Patriot Place, “there’s a movie theater, interactive museum, and soon a bowling alley, but we are definitely a unique offering.”
Since opening at Patriot Place, Botsch says 5 Wits has been very well received and they see a great deal of repeat business. The concept has been so successful at Patriot Place that 5 Wits is expanding this year. A new store is opening in Syracuse, NY in a mall called Destiny USA. Destiny USA is a 2.4-million-square-foot shopping center that attracts over 20 million visitors each year. As for future plans, Botsch says the company would like to design the shows to be portable so they could travel to various locations.