In the business of bowling, leagues can make a big impact on the bottom line for an alley.
“The leagues are our bread and butter,” Jim Maxon said.
With more than 500 fall members in 11 different leagues, the Killeen Bowlerama owner is grateful for the business.
Maxon and his wife, Jean, have owned and managed the bowling alley for the past 10 years, and they’ve seen it go through ups and downs, in step with changes at Fort Hood.
“We definitely saw a decline in business when 4th Infantry Division left Fort Hood,” Maxon said.
Currently, the military community makes up a substantial portion of customers, and the leagues are bringing in steady customers.
“For open bowling, about 15 percent of bowlers are active duty,” Maxon said. Many league bowlers are military retirees.
Jake Evans, an employee at Hallmark Lanes, concurs.
With more than 15 leagues for the fall 2013 season at Hallmark, “it’s a fixed income,” he said.
And that means big business, Evans said, adding Hallmark’s “Friday’s Best” league is the most popular by far. Hallmark also offers specialized leagues for seniors, youth and women.
Like Bowlerama, military customers are a large slice of the bowlers at Hallmark, Evans said.
Lifetime Killeen resident Marjorie Carroll has been bowling at Killeen Bowlerama since the day it opened in 1958.
“Every winter and every summer since I was 26 years old,” she said. “I bowl badly, but I still love it.”
When she began bowling, games were 25 cents apiece. Now, they run up to $3.75 per game, per person, depending on the day and time.
The area has changed a lot in the past 55 years, she said. Many new people have joined the senior league she participates in on Tuesdays at 12:30 p.m.
Like Hallmark Lanes, Bowlerama also appeals to specific groups of people with commercial (competitive) leagues and youth leagues.
What keeps people like Carroll coming back to Killeen Bowlerama is the family-friendly atmosphere.
“We are family owned,” Maxon said.
His son runs the pro shop, and his three other children, mother-in-law and brother-in-law all work in the alley.
“We know our customers by their first name,” Maxon said. “We’ve seen the same faces for 10 years.”