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Sequim bowling alley closes
With its lanes open and pins crashing since at least the 1950s, Sequim Olympic Lanes, 710 E. Washington St., closed its doors this week.
Manager Mike Elkhart opened the alley through the weekend and for a long-scheduled class party on Monday, June 9, as a reward for sixth-graders in Casey Lewis’ math and language arts classes with no F’s or missing assignments.
“I saw them half a block away walking and they were waving,” he said. “The kids knew they were the last ones to bowl here. All of them said thank you for keeping it open and gave me high-fives as they walked in.”
The decision to close came as a surprise to Elkhart, who has been managing it for eight years for his father Vern Elkhart, who owns the business.
“It’s really sad,” Mike Elkhart said. “Once this bowling alley leaves, I don’t think Sequim will see another bowling alley.”
Vern Elkhart said there just wasn’t enough money coming in.
“We make it in the winter time but there’s just not enough business in the summer,” he said. “We’ve been working at (improving business) quite a while. Mike’s been working his butt off.”
Property owner Karl Allen asked them to leave the property, he said.
“He wants his rent and I can’t blame him,” Vern Elkhart said. “We just weren’t able to keep up with it.”
Allen said he hasn’t received rent from Vern Elkhart in “quite some time.”
He bought the property in 2007 and put the 6,000-square-foot building up for sale in August 2013 but said he hasn’t had any interest from buyers.
“As a bowling alley, it’s not going to do me any good,” he said. “I have a better chance of leasing it out as one big building. As a 6,000-square-foot building, it’d have a good chance of selling.”
The property is listed for $299,000, Allen said, but he’s open to leasing again.
“I bought it for the community,” Allen said. “I think (the bowling alley) closing is a shame for the community. It’s another (commercial) vacancy. That’s unfortunate for our town.”
Vern Elkhart said the Sequim closure likely means more business for his Laurel Lanes in Port Angeles.
“A lot of people will be disappointed but at some point it’s got to generate enough revenue,” he said.
Allen, who said he’s been losing money on the property for three years, said (the Elkharts) could only take it so far.
“There was no sign that things were turning around for them,” he said. “I believe (Vern) would pay me if he could.”
With the closure, devoted league bowlers likely will transition to Laurel Lanes, Mike Elkhart said.
Randy Perry, Sequim High School girls bowling coach, said he learned of the closure on June 9, shortly after it was announced on the bowling alley’s Facebook page.
He said the girls will move matches and practices in the winter back to Port Angeles after moving them to Sequim this school year and that they’ll have practices “here and there” and the girls will practice at matches, too.
“If the community used it more it’d be open, but we’re a small town,” Perry said. “People have more things going on. The girls on the team love to bowl but have other things going on. It does suck for the community to lose something like that. In the evenings you could go down and have fun. Now, there’s nothing more to do except at the Boys & Girls Club (for children). For the community, it’s a select few, but we’re so small that everybody knows somebody who bowls over there. Maybe not you, but somebody you know. It just stinks.”
Casey Lewis, who planned the Monday school event at the beginning of the year, said she’s not sure what she’s going to do for her students next year as an activity.
However, one of her students, Braven Headley, 12, can remember he took the last shot down the lane for the alley.
Mile Elkhart said they worked hard to turn the alley into a family recreation spot.
Sherrie Elkhart, Mike’s wife, said one of their greatest joys is watching the wholesome activity with three generations of families playing together.
Vern Elkhart still owns the bowling contents and Mike Elkhart said they are looking for investors to help revive the alley elsewhere. They are beginning to take out the bowling items, Vern Elkhart said, and he’s open to offers for its contents.
For more information on the bowling alley, 710 E. Washington St., call 683-3500.
The building is listed under Shawnna Rigg, real estate broker with RE/MAX Fifth Avenue, who can be reached at 683-1500 or 360-808-5448.