Get To Know: Sue Crocker, Escape Ipswich

POSTED ON: 07/12/2018

Sue Crocker, co-founder of Escape Ipswich, tells us how she went from commuting down the A12 to opening Ipswich's best escape rooms.

“I was listening to Simon Mayo on BBC Radio 2 and that inspired me to start my business, but it was my Dad and family that helped to make it happen."

I had been commuting between my home town of Ipswich and Chelmsford for the best part of seven and half years and I needed a change. On my commute home, I’d always listen to Radio 2’s Drivetime. One day a caller mentioned he had just been to an “escape room” and Simon Mayo asked what that was. It was explained how it’s a very popular team building activity and leisure experience, where your team is “locked into” one of several themed rooms, with just 60 minutes to solve different kinds of puzzles and follow the clues in order to escape (it’s quite safe because you are briefed and supervised by our team!). It sounded like good fun, so I explored online because our family enjoys doing that kind of thing and I’m a fan of game shows such as The Crystal Maze.

A short time after I happened to be unwell and, as a result, I started thinking what else I could do for a living, hopefully something fun that might end the tedious commute up and down the A12. I wanted a family-run business, something that would provide work not just for me and my own family, but local students too. I contacted Danny, the ‘Escape’ franchise creator, to find out more about the whole concept and it really appealed to me. Our family made the decision to invest in the Ipswich franchise.   

Our next challenge was where to locate our escape rooms, but then our letting agent found this interesting three story Listed Building which had been vacant for about two years, in a quiet side street next to the old Unicorn Brewery on Orwell Place. The planning application for “change of use” from office category was quite interesting because initially our Council had its own puzzle to solve (how to categorise an escape room!). 

What do you love about running a business in Ipswich?
Well, it gets your heart going when you’re watching them trying to crack the code or solve a puzzle against the clock! Some people’s enthusiasm is infectious, they get excited and it can become quite competitive, with teams fighting to beat each other or to gain top place on our leaderboard! Plus we do meet a lot of very nice people from all backgrounds; some are work colleagues doing team-building events, but others might be tourists and day trippers, families or just groups of friends. We’ve even welcomed a few VIPs and an A lister celebrity or two since we opened last October.  

What makes Escape Ipswich so popular?
It is quite an unusual way to use your brain and have some fun at the same time!  It’s also one of the few affordable and alcohol-free leisure experiences for older teenagers and grown-ups to enjoy together (young people aged 10 – 16 are welcome with parent/carer supervision).  nd because the last game can be booked at 9 pm, and we’re close to the centre of town and the Waterfront, Escape Ipswich is an ideally located place to start or end a Big Night Out. 

Business is getting better and better as word gets out how good our themed rooms look. We opened with three different rooms and we now have six fully themed escape rooms for people to have a go at. And it’s all happened six months ahead of our original plans. I’m really glad I heard that Simon Mayo show!

Find out more about Escape Ipswich and book your escape room experience!


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