Detroit Mobile Bowling Alley Brings Unique Alternative Enjoyment To Your Door Terence Jackson Jr., 34, runs Luxury Strike Bowling, a rentable, private mobile bowling alley that offers a unique entertainment alternative to Zoom parties.

Detroit-Area Entrepreneur Launches Bowling Alley On Wheels During The Pandemic

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There are more than 3,400 bowling alleys across the U.S. And with the pandemic, many are closed, and bowlers have nowhere to roll. But now in a Detroit suburb, one entrepreneur is offering a unique bowling experience. Laura Herberg of member station WDET reports.

LAURA HERBERG, BYLINE: Audrey Vazquez (ph) is celebrating her birthday party at a bowling alley.

AUDREY VAZQUEZ: Cheers to 35 in 2020, OK?

HERBERG: Well, not the usual kind of bowling alley. It's a mobile alley built inside a big black semi-trailer and driven to bowlers. Terence Jackson Jr. is the man behind this mobile bowling alley.

TERENCE JACKSON: So you're looking at a state-of-the-art facility. When you come inside, just forget that you are actually in a trailer at all.

HERBERG: Inside, there are two 25-foot lanes straddling an automatic ball return. To better accommodate the space, the balls here are about the size of a grapefruit and don't have any holes. It's like duckpin bowling except the pins here aren't fat. Jackson picks up a ball to demonstrate.

JACKSON: Let's see what we got here. All right. There we go - strike.

HERBERG: In the back of the trailer, a sign on the wall says in red glowing letters, bet on yourself. Jackson used to build party buses. That's what started him down this path. Inspired by the likes of arcade trucks and axe-throwing trailers, he wanted something novel, and he knew that 65 million Americans like to bowl. Terence Jackson Jr. came up with the concept two years ago, and to fund the venture, he sold a couple of condos he owned and pretty much all his assets.

JACKSON: People said I was crazy. People said, why would you sell your house, your real estate and basically be homeless? But I had a vision.

HERBERG: Jackson designed and outfitted the trailer at the beginning of the pandemic. He says it cost him about $300,000. But when Luxury Strike Bowling finally launched in June, he says the mobile alley was soon booked solid for months. With rentals starting at $500 for two hours, the business is so successful, Jackson's hired drivers like Arthur Claybon (ph), who's on duty tonight.

ARTHUR CLAYBON: If any balls or pins get tangled, you can press this button and call me.

HERBERG: After helping guests get set up, Claybon spends most of his shift sitting in the F-450 truck in front of the trailer. He says he likes driving around a big, long truck emblazoned with a sign saying, the world's first mobile bowling alley, on the side.

CLAYBON: Oh, man, it's awesome to have people stop you and ask for flyers. And it's just like you a local celebrity, you know?

HERBERG: Back inside, birthday girl Audrey Vazquez sits in the booth area with five friends. They're all wearing masks and sipping Crown Royal in plastic party cups. Vazquez says that with restaurant dining, bars and regular bowling alleys shut down in Michigan right now, Luxury Strike was one of the few ways she could celebrate her birthday party not on Zoom.

VAZQUEZ: It's amazing. I would have never thought about something like this. This is absolutely great. And to be honest with you, it's even better because we never thought we would go through a pandemic. So it's perfect for right now.

HERBERG: Jackson hopes his mobile bowling alley isn't just perfect for right now but will fill a void for years to come. He's already working on a second mobile alley, which he hopes to roll out next year. For NPR News, I'm Laura Herberg in Detroit.


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