In one of my very first posts here on HA, way back before pretty much anyone was reading me, I called out bowling alley operators for their ridiculous claims in support of Tim Eyman’s Initiative 892, which would have put tens of thousands of slot machines in bars, restaurants and bowling alleys, scattered throughout nearly every community in the state.
Support from bowling alleys comprised the heart of Eyman’s claim that his was a battle for equal treatment for mom-and-pop businesses versus a powerful “tribal monopoly,” and throughout the campaign a handful of bowling alley owners routinely made the rounds of talk radio and editorial boards, arguing just that point. I wasn’t convinced.
I remember one particular phone call from a woman who pleaded for slot machines on behalf of the bowling alley that had been in her family for three generations. She claimed she just couldn’t compete against the tribal casinos anymore, and if I-892 didn’t pass, she would probably shutter the family business.
Now, at the risk of sounding unsympathetic, I’d like to impart a bit of wisdom from one small businessperson to another:
YOU’RE RUNNING A FUCKING BOWLING ALLEY!!!
And perhaps, instead of trying to compete with the tribal casinos, you should spend a little time and effort promoting… gee, I don’t know… bowling?!
Saying that bowling alleys need slot machines to compete with tribal casinos is like saying Chuck E. Cheese’s needs a liquor license and strippers to compete with the Deja Vu.
The point is, if you can’t make ends meet enticing people to chuck balls at pins, then perhaps you’re in the wrong business. Or sadly, perhaps bowling just isn’t a viable industry anymore.
Well, apparently bowling still is a viable industry, with a brand new Lucky Strike Lanes set to open one floor below a trendy billiards parlor in downtown Bellevue.
Sure, it’s not the beer stained, smoke filled “family” bowling alley of my youth, but then, I don’t remember slot machines vying for space with the Charlie’s Angels pinball machine either. And surprise: all it took to compete for entertainment dollars was some good, old fashioned innovation.
Hmm. Bowling alley owners capturing new business by catering to bowlers? Who’d a thunk?