Lanes to close Sunday
Tar Heel Lanes, the 32-lane bowling center on N. Main Street that has been a fixture for bowlers since 1976, will close Sunday.
Owner John Kilpatrick of Holiday Lanes in Johnson City, Tenn. has not been able to get the refinancing needed to keep the business open, Jeff Crane, center manager, said Monday.
Fifteen employees will lose their jobs. Many of them are expected to hold their final gathering Saturday.
“We hope the business can be sold and a new owner will reopen it,” Crane said. “All the machines and equipment will be here so a new owner can do that.”
The center has a lounge, snack bar and video arcade. There also is a party room and a supply store.
Although bowling is the largest form of indoor social entertainment in America, the latest statistics show participation is dropping faster among the most serious bowlers who participate in competitive leagues than among open play or leisure bowlers, according to the White Hutchinson Leisure and Learning Group.
“League play used to be 80 percent of the business,” Crane said. “It’s about 50 percent now. Twenty years ago, a person bowled three to four times a week. Now, it’s just one. That means, you’ve lost two bowlers a night.”
The industry also took a hit from the recession. Families with money for entertainment continue to bowl while others that have lost income do not, according White Hutchinson.
“It’s just not as good of a business as it used to be,” Crane said. “I am out of bowling now. I have another job.”
Decline: The drop nationwide has been the most extreme among serious bowlers, down 28 percent since 2007. The decline is only 8 percent for casual bowlers.
Source: White Hutchinson Leisure and Learning Group, Kansas City, Mo., 2007-11.