An era is about to end in Langley, as Willowbrook Lanes rolls into the sunset.
Owner Bob Randall confirmed that the building that houses the 20-lane bowling alley has been sold.
“Effective May 10, a Korean specialty grocery store will be using our building,” Randall told the Times earlier this week.
The only bowling alley in Langley, Willowbrook Lanes opened on Canada Day, July 1, 1981.
Five years later to the day, July 1, 1986, it was acquired by Randall and his wife Cheryl.
Now, after 31 years, Randall is entering a new chapter of his life.
“Really difficult to move on,” he said.
The decision to sell was a combination of not the best current use for the property (25,000 bowling games must be sold to pay property taxes and dues) and “us aging out,” Randall shared.
While the sport is relatively inexpensive for kids to participate in — only $250 a year with no equipment to purchase — the upkeep of bowling facilities is very expensive. The first 25,000 games that are bowled at Willowbrook Lanes every year cover just the property taxes.
“I need 12 years to amortize cost of new lanes, scoring and improvements and I’m 69 next month,” he added.
Over the past three-and-a-half decades, Willowbrook Lanes has hosted numerous leagues, high-level tournaments, and fundraisers, most notably Bowl for Kids Sake, that annually raises much-needed funds for the non-profit organization, Big Brothers Big Sisters Langley, which receives no direct government funding.
Walking away is a hard decision for Randall, who is an avid bowler.
“Love the people, the game, and our community involvement,” he said.
The sale of Willowbrook Lanes could mark the demise of bowling in the community.
Randall said there “are no current plans that I know of to build a new facility in Langley.”