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#38188 - 01/08/07 08:43 PM Can one make a living owning a bowling alley?
Cam Offline
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Registered: 12/04/06
Posts: 42
A/S/L: Minnesota
Our local coffee shop (not a chain) was just purchased by a younger couple and the wife has always wanted to own a coffee shop. As I watched Ohio state take the kickoff back for a TD I wondered if anyone does this with bowling alleys. Thinking far into the future I might like this as a retirement. But not knowing anything about the dynamics and cash flow, I wonder if this is reasonable.

Since my youth bowling alleys seem to be more family friendly (no smoking in my lanes, alcohol consumption overall is down). Maybe boomers will retire to a life of bowling? My lanes are busy every weeknight with leagues. When I was a kid the Saturday and Sunday daytime leagues were Junior leagues and keep that place busy.

In my area only a couple lanes have "pro shops" where you can purchase balls. How does this play into success of a lanes?

Having said this, they tore down some lanes in a nearby town that were quite new, to clear land for a Hospital (actually land for a medical office park next to the new Hospital).

I expect the group might have thoughts.

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#38214 - 01/09/07 01:27 AM Re: Can one make a living owning a bowling alley? [Re: Cam]
Brandon510 Offline
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Registered: 08/05/06
Posts: 1990
A/S/L: 28/Male/California/Philippines
My home bowling center where i bowl out of Cloverleaf Family Bowl, The Hillmans. Has been family owned since it open before i was born some 40 year plus ago and still family owned. So i would say they made a living out of it. There kids run it now.
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#38220 - 01/09/07 09:14 AM Re: Can one make a living owning a bowling alley? [Re: Brandon510]
Lefty Offline
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Registered: 01/30/05
Posts: 2356
A/S/L: 37 / M / Rochester, NY
You can make a living doing it, but I wouldn't call it a booming business. Bowling isn't the thriving industry it once was. It's also not cheap. For a decent center with good traffic and a fair number of lanes, it will easily be over one million to buy the place. Doing some quick research, a small old 10 lane center was selling for $500,000.

I also think there's a big difference between retiring to run a coffee shop and running a bowling alley. There's going to be way more work in a bowling alley. Waaayy more work.


Edited by Lefty (01/09/07 09:14 AM)

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#38225 - 01/09/07 10:18 AM Re: Can one make a living owning a bowling alley? [Re: Lefty]
Dennis Michael Offline
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Registered: 12/11/05
Posts: 9575
A/S/L: M/Barrington, Ill
There are many smaller Houses on the market in smaller towns. The annual gross is about $500,000. That's not a lot when you consider your fixed costs, variable costs of utilities and maintenance, and the workers have to get paid.

The bar business and concession, or resteraunt have to be profitable for most to stay open.

One I looked at, 20 lanes, was in this revenue range, but has been left with sooooo much maintenance to perform, just to be considered a normal operating condition. When revenues drop, so does the money put into maintenance. To restart these lanes took a major investment to get back to a reliable operating condition. Not even including probable lane resurfacing or covering with synthetic finishes.

I'm sure others who are more familiar with the mechanics can tell you of the bandaids used to maintain equipment. You see, the lanemen are already on the payroll as sunk cost, so just make them fix it. Parts cost more money. Owners are frugal.
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#38228 - 01/09/07 10:24 AM Re: Can one make a living owning a bowling alley? [Re: Dennis Michael]
Brandon510 Offline
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Registered: 08/05/06
Posts: 1990
A/S/L: 28/Male/California/Philippines
I wonder how much those Brunswick Bowling Zone cost to open? Maybe ther fraanchised not sure?


Edited by Brandon510 (01/09/07 10:25 AM)
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#38232 - 01/09/07 10:42 AM Re: Can one make a living owning a bowling alley? [Re: Brandon510]
Atochabsh Offline
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Registered: 02/13/01
Posts: 6567
A/S/L: 50/F/California
The new house in Lincoln cost $15 million to open. Its totally up with the times and beyond. Over 50 lanes, big screen TVs, two bars, sports restaurant, kids play area complete with climbing wall.

The house (32 lanes) that closed 6 years ago in our last home area just reopened up. It was remodeled, but the wood lanes were coated or something (synthetics were not put in). Cost of that remodel (I'm told) was $2 million. The existing restaurant was not touched and is hugely popular. But the bar was revamped and party area with boce ball was added where the old Pro Shop was and the dry cleaners next door.

Erin

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#38239 - 01/09/07 10:54 AM Re: Can one make a living owning a bowling alley? [Re: Atochabsh]
Lefty Offline
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Registered: 01/30/05
Posts: 2356
A/S/L: 37 / M / Rochester, NY
I think I remember reading that to build new, lanes alone were 100K each. I don't know if that's accurate, but for some reason that number is sticking with me.

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#38246 - 01/09/07 12:09 PM Re: Can one make a living owning a bowling alley? [Re: Lefty]
Brandon510 Offline
Legend

Registered: 08/05/06
Posts: 1990
A/S/L: 28/Male/California/Philippines
Ouch. It is quite expensive to either build one from scratch or take over a old abandon one. There one abandon one in my area was around for 47 years and then one day they closed.
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#38248 - 01/09/07 12:29 PM Re: Can one make a living owning a bowling alley? [Re: Lefty]
bergmann Offline
League Bowler

Registered: 01/04/07
Posts: 84
A/S/L: Ohio
Originally Posted By: Lefty
I think I remember reading that to build new, lanes alone were 100K each. I don't know if that's accurate, but for some reason that number is sticking with me.


I found an article talking about starting up a bowling alley. Here's a link to the article, it's pretty informative.

Edit: Nevermind, linking to that URL is banned. Here's the article :

In 1998, 50.6 million people participated in bowling in the U.S., making it the 4th most participated in sport-leisure activity. (Super-study conducted by the U.S. Sporting Goods Manufacturers Assoc.). It ranked behind leisure swimming, bicycling, and walking. According to The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley, bowling is the second most profitable sole proprietorship in America, excluding health-related industries. First is coal-mining. Like any business, this profit is not automatic. Standard, sound business practices, good demographics, good equipment, and a good location are all necessary ingredients for a profitable bowling business. The advantages of operating a bowling center include these facts: it is an all cash business; there are no accounts receivable; there is virtually no inventory; there is no cash flow lag; consequently, gross profit is in excess of 90%. The following guidelines will serve as an overview to show you what we think it takes to build a successful center. If you have further questions or need a source for your equipment, feel free to contact us at bowling.com.

DEMOGRAPHICS

In the U.S., the bowling industry typically recommends a population density of 2,000 per lane within a 5-mile radius; i.e. a 24-lane center should have a population of 48,000. However, bowling.com recommends 2500-3,000 per lane. If you are the only bowling center in your trade area or in your town, then the 5-mile radius can be expanded. Other factors also may skew the standard demographics up or down.

PROPERTY REQUIREMENTS

16 Lanes=2 Acres (.8 HA)
24 Lanes= 2.5 Acres (1 HA)
32 Lanes= 3 Acres (1.2 HA)
40 Lanes= 4 Acres (1.6 HA)
Parking: 5 Spaces per lane

APPROXIMATE BUILDING DIMENSIONS

Width: 5.6'/ LANE (171cm) (plus divisions for support poles and walkways on the sides).
Depth: 150'-175' (46M-54M)
Back wall through settee area: 100'(30.48M) plus 50'-75'for concourse, front desk, restaurant, etc.
Note: The Depth can be reduced or increased, but the width must be as specified.

EQUIPMENT COSTS

Bowling Equipment Costs, delivered and installed range from $18,000 per lane to $45,000 per lane. The lower cost is all used, and the higher cost is all new. Most U.S. centers are constructed using a combination of new and used. Bowling equipment will last 30 or more years if properly maintained. Modernizations such as upgraded scoring, new front end furniture, etc. are needed every 5-10 years to keep up with competition. Average cost in the U.S. to completely build a new center, including land, building, nonbowling equipment, and bowling equipment is $ 90,000-$110,000 per lane. The single largest cost variable is whether or not one leases, purchases or constructs a building. Should one decide to outfit an existing building, costs can be in the $50,000 to $65,000 per lane range, complete.

CASH FLOWS

The lineage (games) in a well run, state-of-the-art center in the U.S. can range (on the high side) from 12,000-15,000 games per lane per year. The national average for chain operated centers is 9250 lines per year. Internationally, centers in certain new markets have generated as much as 25,000-30,000 lines per year. The average cost per game in the U.S. is approximately $2.00 The average nonbowling revenue is $.67 for every $1.00 of bowling revenue. This is for things such as food and beverage, shoe rental, vending machines, arcade games, etc. A bowling center averaging 11,000 lines per year will generate approximately $36,750 per lane annually. Operating cash flows should be from 25%-33% of gross revenue.

TRENDS

The trend in the U.S. is large, modern, family entertainment centers. Properly managed, the amount of open play (nonleague) can be increased tremendously by implementing such things as "glow-in-the-dark" late night bowling, birthday parties, corporate parties, etc. These types of centers are actually attracting professional men and women and their children, which is something the industry has seldom seen here-to-fore. The types of centers mentioned above are doing extremely well, while the ones who have not changed with the times and who have not reinvested in their centers are not doing nearly as well.


Edited by bergmann (01/09/07 12:33 PM)
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#38251 - 01/09/07 12:50 PM Re: Can one make a living owning a bowling alley? [Re: bergmann]
usr bin geek Offline


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I have a lot to say about this but I just don't have time right now. Though you can get some hints about what I will say based on this: http://www.usrbingeek.com/a/000836.php
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