After three years of silent ownership, Sunshine Lanes owner Evan Williams is trying a new tactic to bring new energy to the eight-lane bowling alley: locally-based management.
Williams bought the facility three years ago and had the lanes and lounge overhauled, under the supervision of Drew Pate, who had taken on a three-year lease.
While the King Pin lounge has been successful — and the Greyhound depot has been moved from the Hope Laundromat to Williams’ site — the bowling aspect never seemed to get off the ground.
With the lease contract expired and Pate not wanting to continue, Williams said he decided to hire people with a long history in Hope to manage the facility. Michelle “Mo” O’Sullivan was already working in the lounge and is now the manager — and Crystal Mann was hired to manage the bowling and Greyhound components.
At age 77, the Langley-based businessman said he can’t seem to stay retired for long and has been traveling to Hope to get the ball rolling on the bowling lanes.
Step one is to get people back in the building and the first promotion that he and Mann have come up with is free bowling for age 55+ players, from 10 a.m. to noon, Monday through Friday during September.
That’s right: FREE.
“We’ve also come up with a family plan, where two adults and four kids up to age 15 can play three games for $30 — shoes included,” said Williams.
“And we’re looking at minor sports fundraisers,” added Williams. “Minor leagues are always strapped for money, so on a Saturday, maybe, we could do a bowling fundraiser, with a 50/50 split of proceeds. If people like the game, they’ll come back again.”
League bowling was once popular in Hope but has not returned to make use of the rejuvenated lanes. Williams and Mann plan to change that this fall.
“We’ve got a lot of people showing interest,” said Williams. “I had some meetings with people who used to bowl here and they were determined to come back and join a league in October. Based on what I’ve heard from people I’ve talked to, 20 to 25 said they’re definitely coming.”
Another change is getting the lanes re-affiliated with Bowl BC.
“This facility hadn’t been with Bowl BC for some years,” said Williams. “Players who bowl here can now go on to bowl elsewhere, in provincial or national championships.”
Some 20 years ago, Hope’s Bill Schoenberger won a national championship in youth five-pin bowling. Williams thinks that kind of success could happen again.
“We should be able to get a group of athletes out of the high school and make up a team,” he figured. “It’ll take some effort — but we have to get them interested first. I understand that it could be arranged as a tax deductible activity, for their parents’ taxes.”
Mann said she has been reading up on bowling rules and league play and she’ll be visiting Chilliwack’s Chillibowl Lanes to get some tips from the manager there. She is excited about the prospects of getting leagues running this fall.
“A couple of people have asked about youth leagues — and the seniors have asked me to do two leagues, one in the morning and one in the evening. I’m hoping to do the morning league from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. The days are up to them.
“Something important to me is a Sunshine League, for people with disabilities,” she added. “I’d also like to see company teams, like Lordco versus Rona or Buy and Save versus Coopers. I know it has worked in other towns. It would be nice for them to get together and unwind.”
If you’d like to be part of a league, drop by the bowling desk and leave your name and contact info.