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Son taking reins at The Bowlmor

FAIRMONT — A long-standing, popular business in Fairmont will change hands Aug. 1, but will remain in the family.

The Bowlmor Lanes has been owned by Dave and Nancy Pederson since 1980. They are turning over the 20-lane recreation center to their son, Doug, a 1986 graduate of Fairmont High School who currently lives and works in Omaha.

Doug plans to move back to Fairmont in a few years, when his youngest child graduates high school. He said in a press release that he will oversee The Bowlmor “at a high level,” with local managers handling day-to-day operations.

The Bowlmor also includes arcade games, the Tee Box golf simulator, as well as food and a bar.

Dave Pederson, 76, told the Sentinel on Monday that he will remain involved in the business, but will back away from the 12-hour days, with plans to spend mornings at the facility, reading his newspapers and interacting with staff before heading home. It will be a big but welcome change for him, as he noted he could do a lot more in a day when he was 36, compared to 76.

Doug said he had been considering buying The Bowlmor for a while, hoping his parents would be able to retire. He said that having grown up in Fairmont, he knows the city needs more recreational opportunities, not fewer, and he had a desire to return to his hometown.

“I didn’t think I would ever be back when I left in 1995,” he said. “But now I want to come home.”

Dave said he planned to retire at age 65, but the nature of the business did not allow him to do so. The bowling industry has seen tough times in recent years, with less public interest. Dave said bowling leagues have diminished nationwide, with bowling shifting from a competitive activity to a recreational outing. Many bowling centers have closed.

“I tell people that right now along I-90 from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Austin, Minnesota, we’re the only bowling center open,” Dave said. “Jackson, Worthington, Albert Lea and others have all closed in recent years.”

The COVID-19 outbreak shut down The Bowlmor for 85 days this year, although the facility did receive an emergency federal loan. The money will not last forever, though.

“There’s still a future for bowling,” Dave said. “We have to try to increase the league activity, hopefully. And then we’ve got to zone in on the recreational.”

He said this means booking corporate or other private parties.

At present, The Bowlmor is open four days per week — Wednesday through Saturday, a normal summer schedule.

Despite the obstacles, Dave said he did not have to convince Doug to take the reins, and he called his son an intelligent, capable young man.

Because of the coronavirus, there will not be an official retirement party for Dave Pederson, but the public may stop by the bowling alley in the mornings to wish him well.

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