Jacksonville bowling alley owners say putting it up for sale won’t silence bowlers

Vicky and David White are ready to sell the Jacksonville Bowl Inn, but want to make sure whoever buys it maintains a seven-decade tradition of bowling in Jacksonville.

“We’re going to be selective on this,” said David White, who bought the Bowl Inn on June 8, 2001. “We’ll support the new owners.”

The owners say the person who buys Bowl Inn gets more than just bowling. It’s a business that has been owned by two families for 70 years and a place that tells stories new and old.

“We’ve had old people come in and say they’re bowlers and they get paid half a penny,” White said.

This tradition of generations has continued over the years, with people making the Bowl Inn a staple in Jacksonville.

“Our customers aren’t just our customers, they’re like our family,” said Vicky White, husband of David White and owner on Jan. 8, 2012. “We’ve taken care of the business because the business has taken care of us…it’s a very good deal.”

As she sat at the counter on Saturday with the shoe rental and sound zone behind her, Vicky White remembers one of her biggest influencers being in the old bowling alley on Walnut Street.

“Robin Manker. He was like a mentor to me,” she said, adding that he was the one who would help make the company what it is today by teaching Vicky White how to bowl and what it brings. “The Robin Manker Youth League, that’s who it’s named after.”

Having a team of vendors has also helped the Bowl Inn continue its success within the community.

A typical week at the Bowl Inn consists of a youth league, a senior league, a civic league, and two additional leagues called a full league and a misfit league. Fridays, Saturdays and part of Sundays are open bowl.

Additionally, the Routt Catholic High School bowling team also uses the company.

“We have a great relationship with Routt and Pat Gibson is great,” Vicky White said. “He was one of our biggest supporters.”

During the summer they also offer free bowling for kids, they only pay $3 shoe rental.

“We wanted to help kids,” Vicky White said.

In addition to bowling, the track also organizes private parties, also has a grill and a bar.

“We just had people here sitting where you are, drinking coffee and bidding on things at an auction,” Vicky White said of the type of people walking in.

After working in bowling and in the family business for the past 21 years, the Whites are ready to hand over not for financial reasons but to get more quality time.

“He’s not getting any younger,” Vicky White said of her husband. “We just want him to slow down.”

But just because their business is for sale doesn’t mean the doors are closing.

“It’s business as usual,” Vicky White said, adding that people would still see her daughter, Christy Spillers, and her twin brother, Ricky Brown, socializing and being part of the Bowl Inn experience.

“It’s the place where great-grandmothers of younger children can participate,” she said.

About Adam Gray

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