Willowbrook Lanes co-owners Cheryl and Bob Randall stood outside the Langley bowling alley, which is closing May 14. Troy Landreville Langley Times

VIDEO: Langley’s Willowbrook Lanes rolling toward closure

Final day of public bowling at popular 36-year-old alley will be May 14

Thursday, May 18 will be a sad day for Willowbrook Lanes owners, Bob and Cheryl Randall.

That’s the day the Langley bowling centre, that opened Canada Day, 1981, closes its doors for good.

The land, as well as the building that houses the 20-lane bowling alley, has been sold.

“A Korean specialty grocery store will be using our building,” Bob Randall said last month.

Technically, the final day of public bowling will be Sunday, May 14. Willowbrook Lanes closes at 10 o’clock that night.

“It’s the last day that anybody will be able to bowl here,” Randall said.

The Randalls have owned Willowbrook Lanes for much of its existence, taking over operation on July 1, 1986.

But for a number of reasons, the couple decided to sell – leaving Alder Alley in Aldergrove as the last bastion for Langley bowlers. There is also a bowling alley in Cloverdale.

The decision to sell was a combination of it not being the best current use for the property and “us aging out,” said Randall, who is about to turn 69.

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 20,000 to 25,000 games that are bowled at Willowbrook Lanes every year cover just the property taxes.

Randall said Willowbrook Lanes is, “100 per cent community supported.” 

“There was no government or group that subsidized us, and we’re one of the few sports that do that,” Randall said.

Randall said selling the property and closing the bowling centre – the first in B.C. to implement ‘extreme bowling’ geared towards youth, as well as automatic scoring for five-pin bowling – was “very tough for us.”

“It gives us purpose, it gives us satisfaction, it gives us responsibility,” said Randall, the former president of Bowl Canada, Bowl BC, and Bowling Federation of Canada.

‘Exit strategy’

Selling Willowbrook Lanes wasn’t a snap decision. The idea had been bandied about for the past eight years.

The Berezan Group proposed high-rise apartments for the area around Willowbrook Lanes back in 2009. “At that time, we felt we had a window of three, four, five years… so we started organizing an exit strategy.”

Randall gave the group right of first refusal if they received another offer to sell.

“We had levels of interest from other parties – people would phone me from Vancouver saying, ‘Are you interested in selling?’” Randall said.

The buyers who eventually finalized the offer told Randall that they were interested in using the building as well as the property.

“That was the only opportunity we ever had to use the building; the building is of quite some value so we’d at least listen to these folks.”

Alder Alley keeps bowling alive

While an era ends in mid-May in Willowbrook, it doesn’t spell the end of bowling in the Langleys.

“We tried to find a place for our bowlers to go, because the organized leagues are very important to us and the kids and the coaches are very important to us,” Randall said.

“Alder (Alley) opened their doors and said that we could re-employ our staff and bring our bowlers down there, and run a youth bowling program. That was agreed upon before we even agreed to sell – that we wouldn’t be displacing the people who truly wanted to bowl.”

Just Posted

Right before Christmas, Surrey woman with two kids loses everything in fire

Bentley, her husband, and her two boys who have health issues are now left homeless

California competition gives Tamanawis an edge in high school hoops

The senior boys team played four games and watched UCLA in action last month

VIDEO: Volunteers, donations needed as ‘Whalley Santa Cause’ returns to Surrey’s 135A Street

Volunteers will descend on the Surrey ‘Strip’ to give hampers to homeless on Christmas Day, but help is needed

Surrey RCMP report ‘Tank-ful’ ending to stolen pit bull puppy case

Tank was reported stolen in late September, when he was 8 weeks old

White Rock’s Memorial Park receives archaelogical permit

Step comes three months after project shut down by SFN cease and desist order

Border officers rally at B.C.’s Peace Arch

CBSA employees tire of ‘lack of respect’

Debt-to-household-income ratio rises in third quarter

Total household credit market debt grew to $2.11 trillion in the third quarter

B.C. Mountie told to resign after texting teenage sex assault victim

RCMP documents say Const. Brian Eden sent sexually inappropriate photos to 17-year-old girl

Family doctors should learn to treat addiction, not shun patients: scientist

B.C. Centre on Substance Use’s Dr. Evan Wood said efforts underway to change addiction medicine image

Update: Small fire near Maple Ridge tent city

Occurred outside camp Wednesday night

Four dog deaths investigated in Cranbrook

One vet suggests a parallel to these deaths and similar ones in 2016

Full Cupboard Holiday Program: Raising food, funds and awareness.

Envision Financial and Langley Advance support area food banks this season

Meningococcal disease outbreak declared in Okanagan

Five cases in last six months among 15- to 19-year-olds, including one in Vernon

Military life gives way to chance as author

Retired Chilliwack officer pens book about life in Afghanistan

Most Read