Interview and photo by Robyn
Newcomb ’20, a features editor

If you happened to notice a funny-looking van pop up around Lowry, you’re not the only one. On Oct. 25 a tin-rusted van with “The Vault! Free Rides!” spray-painted on the back was parked outside Lowry. I walked up to the driver expecting to see a college senior pulling a Halloween prank. What proceeded was one of the craziest nights of my entire life.

Rather than a college student driving the van, I was greeted by a man with a scraggly beard at least in his fifties. Startled by the number of red flags, I asked whether people were allowed to escape his van once they had entered.

The gentleman, who introduced himself as Cookie, explained that he was offering rides to The Vault, Wooster’s hottest nightclub, only a mile away from campus. I thanked him for the tip and went my way, even more curious than before.

My next move, naturally, was to drive to The Vault, located at 981 Grosjean Road. I decided to go in my own vehicle, given that it had fewer offers for free rides spray-painted on the back.

Illuminated by a flood light and a parking lot full of busy customers, stood The Vault. I was initially hesitant at the sight of two bouncers giving me curious looks. However, being the journalist I am, I realized they were the perfect people to help me get to the bottom of the mystery van. After our conversation about vans and the concept of stranger danger, I obtained an interview with one of the club owners.

My interview the following day highlighted the true importance of a location such as The Vault. Ted Amstutz, co-owner of The Vault, explained his vision for a new club where teens could come to have a good time and stay safe.

When asked how much success the van with “free rides” spray painted on the side received, Amstutz stated that perhaps a more professional vehicle appearance would yield better results. He explained that they planned to continue offering free shuttle rides every Wednesday from Lowry to The Vault, and that The Vault is a new place in town to hang out off campus, order delivery from or fit any event of up to 300 people.

The reason this story is important is because The Vault can potentially be a significant presence in the lives of local teens.

After interviewing the owners of The Vault, I went undercover as a high school student at a Norwayne High School football game. What I found out from talking to teens was that Wayne County offers very little for kids to stay out of trouble on a Friday night after a football game. Most of the students I spoke with talked about drinking, playing Mario Kart at home or going to Applebee’s with some friends before heading home.

This story, full of suspicious looking vans, nightclub bouncers and a man named Cookie, presents one important question: if the best we can do for our teens is an Applebee’s and some Mario Kart, what are we going to do about it?

The owners of The Vault say they have one answer, and they are putting their hearts into their business to make Wooster a home for all.