Monday, May 7, 2012

Bowl-ero gets new owners, plans to reopen May 20

The front door at Bowl-ero Lanes, 670 First Street, Idaho Falls.
Bowl-ero Lanes, closed since the end of April, will be reopening May 20 with different owners but the same management.

Pat Verhoff, who has managed the center at 670 First Street for the past five years, said the closing had to do with an auction sale related to the former owners, MicroInvest LLC, of Layton, Utah. There was anauction last Wednesday at Alliance Title, and when no bids were entered the 24-lane facility became the property of Stonefield Inc., LLC, a mortgage broker in Sparks, Nev.

Stonefield also owns the Wild Island Family Adventure Park in Reno, a complex that includes bowling, water slides, laser tag, go-karts, miniature golf, a bar and cafe (Web site: www.wildisland.com).

Verhoff said the new owners have big ideas about expanding beyond bowling, because the old idea of bowling as blue collar pastime no longer holds true. A report issued last year by the White Hutchinston Leisure & Learning Group, "What's Happening to Bowling?" turns a lot of preconceived notions upside down. Some key points:
  • League bowling used to generate about 70 percent of a bowling center's business. It now generates only about 40 percent, and is continuing to decline.
  • Bowling has become a white-collar pastime, and 46 percent of all bowlers are girls and women. In 2007, 42 percent of bowlers had household incomes of $75,000 or higher, compared to just 30 percent of the total U.S. population. More than 25 percent of bowlers came from households with $100,000 or higher incomes, compared to only 18 percent of all U.S. households.
  • More than one-third of all children 6 and older bowled in 2007. That participation rate is 80 percent greater than the average for all age groups. The next highest participation rate is with young adults up to age 34. The 6 to 34 age group contains two-thirds of all bowlers.
  • Bowling faces a challenge from virtual bowling at home, particularly the Nintendo Wii video game system. While the lacks the excitement of the real experience, the in-home game offers a social experience with family or friends at a much more affordable price.
Idaho Falls has very active leagues and Bowl-ero, which opened in 1961, has loyal longtime bowlers. Nevertheless, successful bowling centers in the future are likely to be upscale and diversified. The White Hutchinson report's conclusion:

"(We) find the demand for bowling is elastic, based upon the quality, atmosphere and presentation of bowling. The more centers that match the tastes and values of upscale consumers, the more those consumers will come out to bowl. Think about it. Would you want to spend time in one of those smoky, stodgy, dark prehistoric bowling alleys offering food less appealing than what you find at the State Fair? Of course not. Introduce a new, contemporary bowling center in that same market, and open-play bowling attendance will suddenly shoot up."

To read the full report, follow this link: http://www.whitehutchinson.com/leisure/articles/whats-happening-to-bowling.shtml

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