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Take from the poor, give to the rich – a tale of Robin Hood Lanes

The last rented shoes were turned in at an Edmonds bowling alley just before midnight. Robin Hood Lanes, around for more than 50 years, couldn't be spared from a sale and closure.(Linda Thomas photo)

It’s what people always say when a long-time business closes its doors.

“It’s very sad. It’s very sad to see it go.”

Just before midnight a matte black, 12-pound ball rolled down an Edmonds bowling lane, splitting and scattering 10 pins.

Now, the 50-year-old Robin Hood Lanes bowling alley is closed.

The owners couldn’t spare the property from being sold to a developer.

“I never thought this was going to happen. I thought we would still be here for another 50 years, but times change and we couldn’t save it,” says Marina Ekonomakis, office manager for the bowling alley for the past decade.

We’ve told this kind of story before – Lelani Lanes in north Seattle closed in 2005. Sunset Lanes in Ballard neighborhood closed in 2008. Hundreds of condo units now stand where pins once fell in those locations.

This is a different tale. Robin Hood Lanes was a successful business.

“It was as busy as you could possibly imagine day in and day out,” says Charlie Pascoe, a co-owner.

“Kids come here, seniors come here. I’ve got seniors five days a week. I’ve got juniors four days a week. I run the high school program with Meadowdale High School, Lynnwood High School, Mountlake Terrace High School, six teams from Bishop Blanchet. Now what are they going to do. Where are they going to go?”

About 1,000 league bowlers occupied the lanes during a typical week.

The bowling alley wasn’t just a place to hang out for many people in the community. It was more like “home” they say.

“It’s a place that was safe. The kids could come here and you don’t have to worry about your children,” Ekonomakis says. “Everyone’s friendly. It’s just a good place to gather with friends and meet new people. A lot of people have made new friends just because they joined a league or came to an open bowl and now they have life-long friends.”

Why is it closing?

“I guess it’s the almighty dollar,” she says.

The people who ran the bowling alley never owned the property it sits on. The land owners decided to sell it to a drug store chain.

Walgreens paid $2.5 million for the property. Along with their store, a bank branch will be added to the development after the alley is torn down.

“What Walgreens paid for this property, we could have paid more and we would have. We would have matched it. We would have matched it in a heartbeat if they would have let us,” Pascoe says.

He says there have been conflicts over the years between the land owner – who wasn’t available to comment – and past business owners.

“They didn’t want us to be involved so they said, ‘You know what we’re going to sell to Walgreens, screw you guys’ and that’s exactly what happened,” says Pascoe. “We never got a chance to match the offer. It happened in the middle of the night and it was a hush-hush deal.”

Robin Hood was known to rob from the rich to give to the poor. With Robin Hood Lanes, he thinks it was more like taking from the poor and giving to the rich.

“They’re gaining absolutely nothing, nothing by having another drug store here when you’ve got Bartell right across the street and a QFC,” says Pascoe. “Four minutes away in one direction there’s a Walgreens. Three minutes away that way there’s a Walgreens.”

Pascoe is angry as he talks about the cost of taking away what he calls a “diamond” for the Edmonds community.

The bowling alley was a place for families to bond. Generations of families came through the doors – bowlers as young as three and as old as 93.

He’s also sad.

“You know I haven’t slept in two weeks. This is more than a job. This is my life,” he says brushing tears away from his red eyes. “There’s a lot of people I might never see again and that really hurts because I’m really good friends with all of them.”

“My 6-year-old kid has been going here since he was born and he won’t get to do that anymore.”


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