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Voyageur Lanes set to open back up

Voyageur Lanes will open back up for the season with the help of managers Guy Hopper (left), Emery Kuhlemeyer (center) and Darin Sundstrom (right), who along with business partner Mike Emerson, is leasing the space from the new owners. DL NEWSPAPERS/Paula Quam

Detroit Lakes’ only bowling alley is two weeks from opening back up.

In mid-June, Voyageur Lanes unexpectedly shut its doors with everything inside, leaving the community wondering what was going on.

Longtime owner David Spies sold the business and the building to Valley City developer Chad Wendell, who reportedly plans to build lakeside condos on the property.

It was a sale that essentially happened out of the blue, taking Spies and his staff by surprise.

“It’s something that we kind of saw coming, but not that sudden,” said Emery Kuhlemeyer, who helped manage Voyageur Lanes. “I thought we’d have a few years warning or something.”

When word got out that the bowling alley had closed and the new owners of the building had no interest in trying to run one, Detroit Lakes native Darin Sundstrom, who co-owns Sunset Lanes in Moorhead and who worked several years at Voyageur, sprang into action.

He and business partner Mike Emerson talked to the new owners about the possibility of leasing the building until next spring, when condo construction plans were set to begin.

“And right after the Fourth of July, we got the OK to do that,” said Sundstrom, who along with Voyageur managers Kuhlemeyer and Guy Hopper, would begin getting everything ready to re-open.

“We have to clean things up, make sure things still work and get our inventory in,” said Sundstrom, who says they have to get food, candy, pop and beer ordered.

Aug. 15 is their target date to get the doors back open.

And although the break in business couldn’t have come at a better time for a bowling alley that remains relatively quiet in the summer, Hopper says bowlers are more than ready for it to open back up.

“I felt really bad for the bowlers when it shut down as quickly as it did… people were very upset,” said Hopper. “But now with Darin and Mike stepping in and keeping it going, it’ll be a good thing because a lot of the bowlers are looking forward to it.”

Although league bowling across the U.S. has been slowing down as an industry, Hopper says it remains strong in Detroit Lakes.

“We have leagues every night of the week,” said Hopper, happy that those leagues won’t be disassembled for too long, as getting them back together again could have proven challenging.

And according to the men who will bring Voyageur through until May, they want the leagues for the long haul.

Down the alley road

So what happens once May comes and Voyageur Lanes is closed again?

According to Sundstrom, that’s when things will begin to really take off.

Sundstrom and Emerson, who had already had talks with Spies about possibly buying the business someday, are expanding into Detroit Lakes a lot sooner than they thought.

The partners plan on opening up a bowling alley somewhere in town, although at this point, no location is pinned down.

“We have couple of places in mind,” said Sundstrom, who says the new place will take on a new name. What will be the same as Voyageur is management — Hopper and Kuhlemeyer.

According to Sundstrom, he believes the future of bowling in Detroit Lakes is a bright one.

“There is definitely enough interest here to sustain a bowling alley,” he said, adding that high school teams across the country are growing, and that’s good news for his business.

“We have high school teams here, too, and they’ve been calling to see when they can get in and start practicing,” said Hopper, “so I know everyone is ready.”

There will be a grand re-opening and league bowler fun night on Aug. 28 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. to welcome everyone back to the lanes.

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