Bedrock Lanes to close after 20 years in business

May 5, 2019

LEAD — After 20 years of providing the people of Lead with tons of 10-pin fun, Bedrock Lanes, located at 145 Glendale Dr., Suite 1, will be closing its doors for good in July.

“We’re underwater, and there’s no way to get back up,” said Chris Norris, president of the Bowling Association, which manages the bowling alley.

Norris explained that the bowling alley had been in danger of closing around three-and-a-half years ago after the previous owners, Avis and Warren Felter, fell behind on utility and rent payments.

“The Bowling Association is the entity that took over management,” he said.

Norris said the problem the Felters ran into and the Bowling Association continued to combat is a lack of business in the summer months.

“That’s just the way this bowling alley has been for 20 years,” he said. “You don’t generate any business in the summer.”

Without that income in the summer, Norris said, it’s easy to fall behind on bill payments, and without substantial income during the winter months, that debt continues to grow. Norris said that was the financial tailspin the Felters found themselves in after the Homestake Mine closed its doors and the city of Lead suffered an economic downturn.

“When Homestake was going strong, this place was able to pay for itself and then some,” he said. “The core group of bowlers that are (still) here are ex-Homestakers, that’s the core group, rock solid.”

Norris said for the past three-and-a-half years, the association has been volunteering their time and energy to try to keep the bowling alley open and operational. However, the day-to-day maintanance of the machines has taken a toll on everyone, and dwindling income has only worsened the debt they’re in.

“I talked to the building owner (Don Feist, owner of Lynn’s Dakotamart) back in December,” Norris said. “He told me what he wanted, what he expected of us, and I told him, ‘I’ll do the best we can,’ and we made a very, very good effort.”

The final nail in the coffin, however, came during a routine insurance inspection of the property when it was discovered that there were liability concerns regarding the parking lot and sidewalk to the bowling alley. According to the lease agreement with Lynn’s Dakotamart, owners of the property, the bowling alley is responsible for all maintenance and upkeep of the lower parking lot of the property.

“The parking lot, the sidewalk, is obviously something that we can’t touch because we don’t generate that kind of money,” Norris said.

Norris explained that he doesn’t want Lynn’s Dakotamart to be villainized by the situation.

“I don’t want it to look like Don Feist is closing the bowling alley solely because of the parking lot,” he said. “It’s not his fault. We did what we could; it just wasn’t enough.”

Norris even said Chris Murray, who had been the manager for Lynn’s Dakotamart in Lead for years before recently being promoted in the company, advocated for the bowling alley during his time at the Lead location.

“Chris knows because he’s been fighting with us (side by side) to do whatever we could to keep this place running,” he said.

Tyke Mohr, who recently subleased some space from the bowling alley to open Java Joint, said he’s been in contact with Lynn’s Dakotamart and is in the process of renegotiating his contract in order to stay at the location.

“’Java Joint is part of Lead now,’ that’s what they told me,” Mohr said. “They’re getting the contract ready right now. Java Joint is staying.”

M & L ATV Rentals, LLC, who also subleased space from the bowling alley, will be relocating this summer.

Norris said there will be a Bowling Association meeting at 7 p.m. May 14 at Bedrock Lanes when he will officially announce the plans to close the bowling alley. The public is invited to attend. The bowling alley will remain open to the public from 6-10 p.m., Tuesdays through Sundays, closed for league play on Wednesdays, until July, when work will begin on dismantling the lanes and selling what can be salvaged.

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