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Holiday Lanes in Albert Lea to close

Albert Lea bowling alley Holiday Lanes will close at the end of the month after more than 25 years of operation.

The facility will be open from 3 to 10 p.m. Thursday and 3 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with similar hours next week.

General Manager Dustin Barr said the closure comes after a noticeable decline in youth and recreation bowlers within the last five years. The bowling alley was recently sold to Twin Cities company KK&G Properties LLC, which does not plan to continue using the facility as a bowling alley, Barr said.

“Our league bowler base is getting older,” he said. “A lot of them are quitting for other reasons, and we’re just not attracting the younger crowd like we used to.”

Barr said the advent of social media and other forms of technology, along with changing parent and sports schedules, have resulted in the decline of bowlers.

“There’s so many different entertainment options without leaving the house,” he said.

Barr recalled bowling and playing video games at Holiday Lanes when he was a child.

“If I wasn’t at home or school, I was right here, and we don’t have anybody that does that anymore,” he said. 

The bowling alley was opened in 1990 by Clare and Iris Vincent, Barr’s grandparents.

Holiday Lanes will close later this month after more than 25 years in Albert Lea. – Sam Wilmes/Albert Lea Tribune

“Our success over the years would not have been possible without our many loyal employees, league bowlers, customers, family and friends,” the bowling alley said in a Facebook post. “With mixed emotions, we announce our plans to close our doors (Aug. 31.) From all of us at Holiday Lanes, we thank you for all your loyalty and sharing great memories.”

Barr estimated the number of bowlers has decreased more than 50 percent in five years.

“When we first started, me and my wife would work Friday nights, and if you didn’t have a reservation by (5 or 6 p.m.), you weren’t getting a lane at (9 p.m.) And now, sometimes we close at (9 p.m.) because nobody’s in here.”

Barr said the bowling alley’s looming closure is “sad” for the community.

“It’s a bad thing for the community to lose another venue for kids to have something to do and parents to have something to do with their kids,” he said. “Anytime a community loses anything, it’s bad, obviously … I don’t ever foresee Albert Lea having another bowling alley. It’s not a business model that people are getting into in the smaller towns.”

Barr said Holiday Lanes has cut down on its number of employees as business has slowed, adding it ran out of places to reduce services. He noted bowling alleys across the country are seeing dwindling numbers.

He said his favorite part of the bowling alley was meeting bowlers, often seeing the same bowlers come in. He noted there are bowling alleys in Austin, Owatonna, Rochester and Mankato.

“There’s not a lot of entertainment options in Albert Lea … a lot of our entertainment stuff in Albert Lea seems like it’s disappearing,” Barr said. “There’s still plenty to do, but anytime you lose anything in town, it’s not good.”

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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