MORGANTOWN — Justin Malik, manager at Suburban Lanes, has been bowling a long time. To this day, he likens purchasing a new bowling ball to getting a new car; he considers it a buy that needs careful introspection and rigorous testing of the product before the final decision is made.
“It’s the same thing with a car,” Malik said. “You don’t want to buy it without driving it.”
That’s why Malik loves his demo days, times in the bowling industry where customers pay a small fee in exchange for a day bowling with a manufacturer’s product. In a way, it’s the sport’s equivalent of a test drive.
“A demo day is when we have a manufacturer (who) sends demo balls that have different spans and the holes are interchangeable, so you can fit them to people’s hands,” Malik said. “It brings the sport of bowling to more people. Also, it helps keep up with technology. The game is evolving and changing, so technology is important. They get to see the ball and test it.”
On March 9, Suburban Lanes held a demo day in partnership with Brunswick Bowling. According to Brunswick brand manager John Hill, it’s a good way to expand his brand’s reach in the bowling world.
“We introduce a lot of people to the brand,” Hill said. “It gives them an opportunity to try it, and see what the balls do against each other.”
For many bowlers, events like these offer low risk and high reward; you don’t have to shell out a ton of money on a ball that may end up collecting dust in your closet. No commitment is needed up front, and you may end up finding the ball of your dreams.
“These demo days are great. It’s a chance for league bowlers to try out our new products, and to not have to make the commitment of paying full price for them,” said Summer Jasmin, a PWBA bowler sponsored by Brunswick. “We can try and fit them with what they like the best.”
Suburban Lanes offered a premium lineup of Brunswick balls for testing, and offered door prizes for a select number of participants.
“We had nine balls out here, all brand new releases,” Malik said. “Entry is $10, and every 15 entries we drew to give out a free ball; you get unlimited bowling and you get to try all nine balls.”
The demo drew 40 bowlers to Suburban Lanes, a turnout Malik considered excellent.
“For a Friday afternoon, that’s pretty good. It was a good day,” he said.
Jasmin also appreciates the opportunity to meet with her fans, and blend into a crowd of folks who share the same passion.
“My favorite thing is just meeting the fans, and meeting people,” Jasmin said. “Bowling isn’t like other professional leagues; here, at events like this, we can just talk to the fan. We’re just normal people.”