JOSEPH – The good news for bowlers in Wallowa County is that the long-closed alley in Joseph has been sold.
The bad news is that it will not be resurrected as a bowling alley, but instead as a new, much larger home for Joseph Hardware.
In his third year of ownership of that hardware outlet, although he’s worked there a total of 11 years, James Johnson expresses his opinion – based on previous ownership and how long the alley has been for sale – that bowling in the county is not “viable economically.”
Closed for about 14 months, the business most recently named Southmain Lanes had been under the ownership of Joseph-based Community Bank since that bank foreclosed in June 2012 on previous owners.
The bowling alley building includes about 10,000 square feet of space, of which about 7,500 square feet will be available for retail uses. The location from which Joseph Hardware now operates, about one block north of the bowling alley on the same west side of Main Street, consists of 4,300 square feet of retail space.
Johnson says the added space will allow him to expand his offerings to customers in every category, but especially in the area of appliances. The new site will have space for a showroom from which Johnson can display and sell items such as refrigerators, stoves, washers, dryers, and dishwashers.
Ironically, James Johnson – while working during the daytime at Joseph Hardware – moonlighted for more than three years at what then was known as Wallowa Valley Lanes.
Johnson says the eight lanes in the alley are in “great” shape but, conversely, that much of the equipment is in need of repair.
Much remodeling work will precede the actual move into the new site, says Johnson; a move he estimates could come by the end of November.
Local contractors will be given priority status to bid on work to accomplish such tasks as installing new fixtures, replacing floors and windows, and upgrading the building’s exterior.
The move into the larger space will dictate the hiring of one to three additional employees, Johnson says.
The prior owners of the bowling alley, Cace and Danelle Sidoti, borrowed $551,881 from Community Bank to purchase the alley in January 2010. They lost ownership via foreclosure in 2012.
After being the only bidder Aug. 15, 2012, at a Wallowa County Courthouse auction on the courthouse steps, Community Bank placed a $412,000 price tag (its assessed value) on the business.
With a shortage of buyers, Community Bank dropped the asking price from $412,000 to $239,000 in April 2013.
Ken Wick, the real estate agent for Real Estate Associates who negotiated the sale with Johnson, said the building sold for $229,000.