For the most part, Bowlero doesn’t build its own centers. Instead, it purchases existing ones and makes them over in the Bowlero style: dim lights, loud music, expensive cocktails. At Bowleros, bowling isn’t bowling. It’s “upscale entertainment.”

But for serious bowlers, the lived experience of Bowlero’s rise has come with a marked deterioration in conditions. Someone in Big Mike’s crew warns that lane 26 tonight is sticky right where you step up to bowl: “The approach! The actual approach!” Someone else says it’s no surprise: “They spend a couple million dollars putting in screens but can’t clean the place.”

In its initial acquisition wave, Bowlero bought up prominent centers in large population areas from New York to Los Angeles. As it continues to expand, it has promised to hoover up centers everywhere else in the country. There are roughly 3,500 independent bowling centers left in America. For Bowlero, that’s 3,500 potential acquisition targets. “This industry,” Bowlero executive Brett Parker has said, “is fragmented and ripe for roll-ups.”

“A lot of guys are worried that in five years, seven years, you’re only gonna have a Bowlero,” Big Mike says. “And when that happens, what happens?”

i love how everything is getting shittier in the same awful belittling way

  • grue@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    “This industry,” Bowlero executive Brett Parker has said, “is fragmented and ripe for roll-ups.”

    A.K.A. “competitive and ripe for monopolization.”

    • JJROKCZ@lemmy.world
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      Which the government should stop but won’t because it won’t be seen as a big deal to anyone but the couple million at most bowling enthusiasts. Not enough to swing elections

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    “Private Equity Firm [NAME] is Ruining [INDUSTRY]” is going to be an accurate headline every time we see it.

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        It was always private equity. It’s amazing how effective owning the press is when you want to blame something nebulous like a generation of people rather than admitting to just squeezing every drop of money out of companies you took over.

      • Jayjader@jlai.lu
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        Let’s start a private equity corp called “Millennials”. Perfect camouflage!

  • Dagwood222@lemm.ee
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    Reminds me of a story about the New York Mafia.

    Back in the day, there was a third rate gang. They couldn’t break into gambling, prostitution, hijacking, drugs, or any of the big money rackets. Then they realized that every business in the city needed a garbage pickup. In a few months they’d managed to scare off all the competition, because who is going to go to the wall fighting over trash collection.

    Same thing applies. No small owner has the resources to compete, and the bowlers will have to go the whatever lanes are open.

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      This reminds me of a story I read a long time ago about Dutchmen who moved to America and ended up collecting waste in Chicago. At some time, the Mafia decided the trash business was too lucrative, so they decided to take over. It didn’t work out because the Dutch owned the land fills, and they closed ranks against the Mafia. Found somewhat of a source online: https://www.swierenga.com/ChicagoDutchGarbios.html

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        As with so many things, you can trace this back to Reagan.

        When they made the New Deal laws they wanted to make sure that innovation was rewarded. When Ronnie “deregulated” things it became easier to gobble up the competition instead of out thinking them.

  • VerdantSporeSeasoning@lemmy.ca
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    2 months ago

    “A lot of guys are worried that in five years, seven years, you’re only gonna have a Bowlero,” Big Mike says. “And when that happens, what happens?”>

    Well, in my smaller town, our only new bookstore was part of a large chain. When the owner sold the company, the idiot who bought it drove the chain into the ground. Then that guy sold to an investment type group to be shuttered and liquidated. So now we don’t have a new bookstore, roughly 8 years out.

    Bowling seems to occupy the same type of niche that bookstores do. It appeals to a small dedicated following who really rely on that space. Watching so many big companies go out of business over the last couple decades makes me really not want local businesses sold to bug conglomerates, especially, for example, the way it played out for Toys-R-Us.

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    I bowl maybe once a year. Bowling centers seem to be closing faster than they’re being bought up and shittified.

    This kind of thing sucks, but it also might be the only thing keeping a bowling alley open that’s within 50 miles. I’ve moved a lot and there’s never been more than two bowling alleys that I know of within a reasonable drive.

  • IsThisAnAI@lemmy.world
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    2 months ago

    This is Boomer complaining. Bowling is dead and has been dying and it’s 50 year old machines and shitty food. Turn these places into the top golf of bowling. They were going to fail sooner or later.

    • ieatpillowtags@lemm.ee
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      They aren’t turning it into the top golf of bowling though, they’re charging more for worse service.

    • JJROKCZ@lemmy.world
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      The problem is that bowlero does nothing but increase prices and add alcohol to the menu if it was missing. They don’t improve any part of the bowling experience that was actually lacking, they’re just squeezing blood from stone