EAST WENATCHEE — Eastmont Lanes is facing another financial crisis, says community member and avid bowler Auna Lundberg, who on Sunday started a GoFundMe for the Wenatchee Valley’s lone bowling alley.
“They are in dire need of the community’s help once again,” said Lundberg, a superb bowler who typically rolls in several nightly leagues throughout the week at Eastmont Lanes and is friends with owner Michelle Baugher. “Eastmont Lanes is more than just a bowling alley for birthday parties and league bowling; it’s a community space that is inclusive, safe and something people need for a mental escape.”
Eastmont Lanes was the beneficiary of two fundraisers over the summer — one set up by former employee Zach Weston and the other by Jennifer Thacker, president of the local USBC Bowling Association.
In December, all of the donations were refunded — just out of the blue.
In a Facebook post on Tuesday, Baugher claimed it was because of a discrepancy with GoFundMe.
“Our bank information was not submitted to them in time so they refunded everyone’s donations,” Baugher wrote on the bowling alley’s Facebook page. “I did not set up the fund, so when I contacted them to see if there was anything I could do about it, they would not talk to me because it wasn’t my fundraiser... even though it was for Eastmont Lanes.
“I am not blaming or complaining about anyone; their hearts were in the right place and I am grateful for their time and effort. It was just an unfortunate series of events.”
Lundberg set the goal for the GoFundMe at $15,000, which she said would go toward covering the bowling alley’s bills and utilities while the county still languishes remains in Phase 1. And she made sure to put Baugher clearly as the beneficiary so she could receive the funds.
So far, 26 donors have chipped in a total of $1,615.
“Even if we do not reach the $15,000 goal, (Baugher) can still withdraw what is being donated,” Lundberg said Tuesday. “But I could not tell you exactly how long the extra money will last or if it will even help (the bowling alley) hold on until the state decides to open.”
Lundberg said she’s been personally affected by the bowling alley, and would be “heartbroken” if it was forced to close its doors for good.
Once in Phase 2, the bowling alley can open at 25% capacity.
“But only being able to have six people in a bowling alley at one time is something I consider unfair when you have multiple households in Lowe's or at a grocery store,” she said. “I am praying that our state government will listen to every business that is struggling; Eastmont Lanes isn’t the only one, but I feel they are about to be a casualty that could have been prevented.”
Eastmont Lanes is the only bowling alley within a 40-mile radius of Wenatchee — not counting Brian’s Bulldog Pizza & Bowling in Cashmere, which has four lanes. So if it were to close, there could be an unintended consequence with the state champion Wenatchee/Eastmont bowling teams. It’s hard to compete without a bowling alley.
When the prospect came up in August, both head coaches Christy Binge (Eastmont) and Jeremy Anders (Wenatchee) expressed their concern.
“We could lose the program the way things are going with the pandemic,” Binge said in August.
The only bowling team in the state without its own alley is Ellensburg, which travels to Yakima a couple of times a week during the season for practice and competes solely on the road. But that isn’t something that could necessarily be duplicated for both Eastmont and Wenatchee, where the nearest alley is in Chelan.