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Young woman revives bowling alley in Pipestone

PIPESTONE -- Taya DeRycke, 20, of Pipestone, was away at college when she heard the bad news: Bole-Mor Lanes had closed. Overcome by shock and sadness, DeRycke couldn't imagine her hometown without its bowling alley, which had become a second hom...

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Tara DeRycke is the new owner of Bole-Mor Lanes in Pipestone. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe)

PIPESTONE - Taya DeRycke, 20, of Pipestone, was away at college when she heard the bad news: Bole-Mor Lanes had closed.

Overcome by shock and sadness, DeRycke couldn’t imagine her hometown without its bowling alley, which had become a second home for her over the years.

DeRycke started bowling in kindergarten, and from then on she spent quite a lot of time at Bole-Mor. She worked at the bowling alley for five years, starting as a sophomore in high school, and her love for the place quickly became more about the people than the time-honored sport.

“I just really liked the people, and working with the customers that came in on a weekly basis,” DeRycke said. “It really wasn’t even work for me.”

The bowling alley closed a year ago, after former owner Stan Sabie died. DeRycke, while dealing with the loss of her friend and former boss, knew she would have to act fast to save the business.

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“Pretty much the moment I saw the for sale sign outside the building, I knew I had to do something, because I had heard rumors about people wanting to buy it and tear it down, so I didn’t want it to happen,” DeRycke said.
She started saving every penny she could, until her friends advised her to create a web page on GoFundMe - a crowdsourcing website - to raise money to reopen the business.

In creating the page, DeRycke didn’t expect much money; but moreso wanted to create awareness for the business. She raised awareness, and a modest $685.

The campaign worked, and things took off sooner than expected. Last October, DeRycke worked out a deal with McDonald's Manager Preston Stahl to reopen the business. Stahl purchased the building, and DeRycke agreed to pay him monthly rent.

The bowling alley officially reopened Sept. 16. DeRycke made some renovations - she resurfaced the lanes, redid the approaches and replaced the ancient 200-pound TVs with modern monitors.

The business operations will remain largely the same. Open bowling is on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, and league games take place on Wednesday and Thursday. The bowling alley has a bar and grill that is open those days as well.

Social media is a bigger factor for the business now. With full control of the Facebook page, DeRycke intends to leverage the online platform to fully benefit her business.

Becoming a business owner at age 20 was never a goal for DeRycke. She recently completed her theatre degree at the University of Minnesota in Morris, and expected to put that to use. She just started a major in business, but took a semester off to take the reigns at Bole-Mor.

“Maybe I’ll take a semester online next semester, depending on how stressed out I am,” DeRycke said with a laugh.
She’s jumping right into things, but DeRycke doesn’t expect running the business to be a massive challenge, as she effectively did so when she was just an employee.

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“I would do pretty much everything - work on the lanes, cook, bartend, be in charge of the league standings and getting them set up,” she said. “So it’s not really any different from what I did those five years, it’s just that now my name’s on things.”

With that said, DeRycke would like some help. She’s the only employee right now, and although her mom and friends help her out, she wants to hire two part-time workers to serve alcohol and get the occasional ball unstuck or pin unjammed.

“If I ever need to go anywhere, which I’ll probably want to do at some point, they can watch the place,” DeRycke said.

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The inside of Bole-Mor Lanes. The approaches, lanes and TVs were recently upgraded. (Karl Evers-Hillstrom / The Globe)

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