Bowling store remains even after lanes close

The closing of Oakland Plaza Lanes sends Matt’s Pro Shop to a new location.
Friday, August 6, 2004 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 8:23 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

The end of the line for Oakland Plaza Lanes was not the end for Matt’s Pro Shop.

The store reopened at Parkade Plaza on Sunday, the day after Oakland Plaza Lanes on Vandiver Drive ended an almost 30-year run. On Wednesday, a drop cloth spattered with paint was still on the floor of the relocated business as owner Matt Buxton served customers. He expects the shop to be completely set up by Monday.

Steve Spaur, general manager of Oakland Plaza Lanes, said it could be tough to operate a pro shop independent of a bowling alley. “People will have to actually go out and seek him,” Spaur said.

“It’s a bold move, but he’s one of the best ball drillers in mid-Missouri,” Spaur said. “He knows the game frontwards and backwards.”

Buxton, who grew up in bowling alleys and has a degree in food service, managed the pro shop since 1993 and owned it for more than two years. Buxton said he expects to keep his regular customers.

“In the bowling center you have a captive audience,” Buxton said. “Plus, you can test balls on the lanes, then make adjustments.”

Buxton said that because there are no lanes at his business, he is willing to meet customers at AMF Town and Country, 1508 Providence Road, to make adjustments on equipment or give lessons.

Despite not being located inside a bowling alley, Buxton expects his business in the Parkade Plaza, Suite 138, to flourish with the extra square feet in the new shop.

Oakland Plaza Lanes closed after it was purchased earlier this summer by Prime Development. Vice President Matt Jarret said the purchase was made because of growth in the area.

“Vandiver is in the process of redeveloping,” Jarret said. “We saw it as a good investment property.”

Jarret said Prime Development will put the land and building where Oakland Plaza Lanes was on the market in the fall. “We will probably keep the pre-cast concrete building,” Jarret said, adding that the adjacent miniature golf course would be removed.

With the closing of Oakland Plaza Lanes, Columbia has become a one bowling alley town. Bowling advocates such as Buxton and Spaur fear that larger tournaments that are normally held in Columbia might move. Buxton said the absence of tournaments could affect business.

“A certain percentage of your business is done through tournaments,” Buxton said, “It brings in millions of dollars to the community.”

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