Hey buddy: Wanna buy a bowling alley?
If you can drum up the cash, Country Lanes North, a 24-lane bowling center, operating in the shadow of Duluth’s Miller Hill Mall, could be yours. The business, located at 2327 Mountain Shadow Drive, has is up for sale at an asking price of $2.4 million, according to an item that recently appeared in the online version of Inc. magazine.
Country Lanes North actually is more than just a 23,000-square-foot bowling establishment. It also boasts three outdoor sand volleyball courts, two bars, a restaurant and a pro shop. There’s 2.5 acres of land in the mix, too.
Proprietor Scott Carlson said he first listed the business with a broker about one year ago but has so far received no suitable offers.
Not to worry. Carlson said the future of the bowling center isn’t in any danger.
He explained that he’s simply exploring his options. If a qualified buyer doesn’t emerge, Carlson, who manages the bowling operation and already owns a majority share of the business, said he’ll probably buy out the interests his father and brother. Robert Carlson, Scott’s dad, built the bowling facility in 1976 and now deserves a well-earned retirement, according to his son.
“We’re not going anywhere,” Carlson said, adding that he won’t consider selling the business to anyone who doesn’t intend to continue to operate it as a bowling center.
“I want this place to be here for our customers, both today and in the future,” he said, explaining that he feels a sense of loyalty to the long-time patrons of his establishment.
Carlson said that even if he does wind up selling the business, he’d be quite willing to stay on as a manager in the employ of the new owner. Now 49 years old, he’s been working in the bowling center since age 16 and clearly has a passion for the sport.
“You know what they say… If you love what you do, you never have to work another day in your life,” Carlson quipped. “It’s a lot of hours, but if you like it, it doesn’t really feel like work. I could probably do this another 30 years.”
Despite the recession, Carlson said business has held strong at the bowling alley. In fact, it has improved from 2008, thanks in part to the fact that Country Lanes North hosted the women’s state bowling tournament early this year.
Bowling tends to be a recession-resistant business, according to Carlson.
“Especially with the recent downturn of the economy, people are not spending as much on big trips and vacations. But people still need to be entertained, and bowling is an inexpensive sport people can enjoy close to home,” he said.