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Bowling alley gives local people with hope, happiness even because it struggles towards pandemic pressures | CBC Information

For so long as they will keep in mind, it was Kathy and Andy Rainey’s dream to personal a bowling alley — collectively.

In 2013, after 34 years of marriage, they lastly did it. They bought the 18-lane Orillia Bowl within the small Ontario city it is named for.

“We took all the things, our coronary heart and soul, all our cash,” Andy mentioned. “We bought our stunning home to purchase this place. I adore it right here. That is like my residence.”

However these are vital instances for the enterprise.

Whereas they have been not too long ago allowed to reopen on a small scale — simply 10 bowlers at a time within the 17,000-square-foot house — the Raineys should not positive their enterprise goes to make it.

“Financially, our yr has been a battle,” mentioned Kathy, who does the books for the enterprise. “The bowling alley has spent most of its time closed. It has been actually powerful.”

It is the identical story for 1000’s of companies throughout the nation due to COVID-19. There are estimates that as many as one in six small companies may shut completely in the course of the COVID-19 disaster.

  • WATCH | The characteristic about Orillia’s struggling bowling alley, Sunday March 28 on The Nationwide at 9 p.m. ET on CBC Information Community and 10 p.m. native time in your CBC tv station. You can even catch The Nationwide on-line on CBC Gem.

Even so, on the primary day they’ve welcomed bowlers in months, the Raineys attempt to keep optimistic and deal with their clients.

“It is good to see the completely happy, smiling individuals coming in to have enjoyable,” Andy mentioned.

‘I am relieved that it is again’

No group has had a more durable time previously yr with the pandemic than seniors. However on this present day, the Orillia Bowl seniors bowling group — a casual group of a dozen or so golden-aged bowlers — is again.

“How a lot I take pleasure in it! I actually, actually take pleasure in it,” mentioned 94-year-old Margaret Houben. “I am wanting ahead to it. To get out of the home and produce other individuals round me.”

WATCH |  Margaret Houben finds happiness in bowling in the course of the pandemic:

Margaret Houben, 94, explains how exhausting it has been to take care of the pandemic’s disruptions, and the way necessary it’s for her to have the ability to bowl once more at her native lanes in Orillia, Ont. 0:38

Houben has been a part of the seniors bowling group at Orillia Bowl for 15 years. She has her personal five-pin balls — pink, together with her identify engraved on them.

“I have a look at the ball and I say, ‘now you are going to do good for me.’ However I get what I get and what I do not get — OK, advantageous. I’ve plenty of good firm round,” she mentioned with amusing.

Grasp across the lanes for some time and you start to grasp what’s at stake for the shoppers who use the bowling alley.

The second Orillia Bowl reopened, the local people psychological well being assist group booked its normal lanes.

After the lengthy layoff, Dave Clark — a daily within the psychological well being group — admits he is a little bit rusty. “My two greatest video games are 199 and 203, however that was many moons in the past,” he mentioned. (An ideal rating in five-pin bowling is 450).

Clark hurls a ball down the lane together with his signature arm-waving supply — suppose John Travolta in Saturday Night time Fever.

“Through the time that there was no bowling, I missed it,” Clark mentioned. “I am relieved that it is again.”

Dave Clark is a member of an area psychological well being assist group that bowls each week at Orillia Bowl. ‘It is simply enjoyable being across the different individuals. I’ve at all times beloved bowling,’ Clark mentioned. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

Within the subsequent lane over is Karen Loewen. She says the COVID-19 pandemic has been powerful for anybody with a psychological well being problem.

“It has been a horrible yr. It feels nice to be bowling once more,” Loewen mentioned. “It simply stimulates your thoughts, simply going on the market bowling.”

Immediately the perfect bowler among the many group is Doris Graham. She scores 175 factors, however stresses that being out with the group was an important victory.

“I used to be depressed in the home, and this is sort of a lifeline for me, bowling,” mentioned Graham, who was a psychological well being nurse in England.

She says when she moved to Canada in 2014 she had a breakdown. Graham has been bowling right here each Wednesday since — that’s, till COVID put an finish to it.

“It provides me a kick, when I’ve the ball in my hand it provides me a kick. That is the primary time I am laughing after one yr,” she mentioned.

Doris Graham had the best rating among the many psychological well being assist group on the day CBC was at Orillia Bowl. “I used to be depressed in the home, and this is sort of a lifeline for me, bowling,” she says. (Nick Purdon/CBC)

The seniors group and the psychological well being bowlers say they are going to hold coming to the alley so long as the doorways keep open.

And the Raineys are booked fairly stable with different clients too — although it is a fraction of the standard capability, on account of COVID-19 crowd limitations.

Kathy is not positive will probably be sufficient to avoid wasting the enterprise.

One drawback is that because the climate warms up, fewer individuals wish to bowl. Spring and summer season are usually the sluggish season in bowling alleys.

“March and April are our busiest months of the yr,” Kathy mentioned. “We misplaced out on them final yr. We will lose out on them once more this yr.”

Consequently, she says the enterprise has misplaced someplace round $350,000 in gross sales due to the pandemic — and is $200,000 within the gap.

“It is horrible. I do not prefer to see these numbers,” Kathy mentioned. “They scare me. What are you going to do, you realize? We simply must make it work. It is a massive loss.”

And he or she worries that as circumstances of COVID-19 enhance in Ontario, there is not any assure Orillia Bowl will not be shut down once more.

“If we go into one other lockdown for greater than a few weeks, even a few weeks, it’ll be actually exhausting for the bowling alley to maintain pulling again from lockdown,” Kathy mentioned.

WATCH | Andy and Kathy Rainey refuse to surrender the battle to maintain their bowling alley afloat: 

Andy and Kathy Rainey, house owners of the bowling alley in Orillia, Ont., describe how a lot this place means to them and the way exhausting they’re preventing to maintain it going regardless of the COVID-19 lockdowns. 0:50

Even so, Kathy and Andy consider their bowling alley will survive.

Maybe their most loyal buyer, 94-year outdated Margaret Houben, says that is the perspective you want in these powerful instances.

“Be completely happy that the subsequent morning you open your eyes and you are feeling you possibly can go. You are still there, you are still round,” mentioned Houben, who is aware of what she’s speaking about.

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the primary disaster she’s been by way of.

“I’ve had exhausting instances in my life, very exhausting instances,” Houben mentioned, her face all of the sudden turning into stern. “I went by way of war-time in Germany — that’s the reason we got here to Canada. We left all the things we had behind. All the things.”

Houben says one of many issues she discovered escaping Nazi Germany is that higher days can come. And so she desires of a world with out COVID-19.

“The very first thing I wish to do is go on my knees and say hallelujah, we’re nonetheless alive. My household continues to be alive and I am nonetheless alive … hopefully,” she mentioned.

Margaret Houben is 94 and has been a part of the casual seniors bowling group at Orillia Bowl for 15 years. ‘What I prefer to see right here is the bowling alley stuffed from one finish to the opposite one, everyone being completely happy and bowling.’ (Nick Purdon/CBC)

And Houben has a dream for her favorite bowling alley, too.

“What I prefer to see right here is the bowling alley stuffed from one finish to the opposite one, everyone being completely happy and bowling.”

In fact, if anybody needs Houben’s imaginative and prescient to return true it is Andy and Kathy Rainey.

“We refuse to die. We will get out of this,” Andy mentioned. “We will do what we have to do. However it’s been a problem, and a anxious problem.”

Watch full episodes of The Nationwide on CBC Gem, the CBC’s streaming service.

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