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The Right Approach...Views on the world of bowling.

Volume 1, Issue 9

By Angel Zobel-Rodriguez

      I took a trip to Las Vegas this weekend to visit with friends. And I came home ahead. But on that four-hour ride home, I started thinking (or maybe it was a nightmare). And what kept nagging me hasn't left--I really DIDN'T want to come home ahead, I wanted to shop. Las Vegas is the home of promotion and marketing hype. Where else would you blindly plunk down money for a one-in-a-million chance? Just think how angry you get when you put just $1 in the soda machine and nothing comes out, yet that's what Vegas is all about and you do it gladly. And honestly how many all-you-can-eat buffets does any town really need?

      Huge resort casinos thrive on the art of merchandising and cross-promotion. If you win, spend it here. If you lose, you still need a souvenir. On the Strip, a giant Coke bottle hails the Coca Cola Store, a shop full of beautiful, if not slightly pricy, merchandise with the Coke logo plastered on everything imaginable--golf shirts, racing shirts, golf balls, T-shirts, magnets, soda. Did I already mention golf? Next door is a really neat M & Ms logo store. You can buy candies by the color, T-shirts, shorts, golf shirts, NASCAR shirts. Wait a minute here, where is bowling?

      Las Vegas is the bowling mecca of the world. Reno has the National Bowling Stadium, but Vegas has the bowlers. Sam's Town sponsors the PWBA, Showboat sponsors the $1,000,000 bonus for a PBA final match 300, and other casinos like Gold Coast and The Orleans have huge bowling complexes. Las Vegas has several premiere stand-alone centers as well. Which begs the question, don't bowlers visit Las Vegas? Don't they bowl sweepers and megabuck events all over the city? Don't they play tourist like everyone else? Don't they buy STUFF? I can't believe that the country's biggest participant sport doesn't get enough recognition to warrant a Coca Cola polar bear throwing the a snowball down a frozen lane, or the yellow Peanut M&M using the Plain red one as a bowling ball. Mickey Mouse was good enough to be on a bowling ball sold at pro shops, but is bowling so icky that a $50 polo shirt is too much to ask for?

      By the time I reached the Caesar's Palace Forum Shops, I should have known what to expect. I walk into the Disney Store, and it took every ounce of control not to accost the salesgirl when I asked "Don't you carry ANY bowling merchandise at all? This is Las Vegas!?!" Well, if you count the little bean bag Mickey bowling pins and ball set, they do cater to bowlers. Honestly the only store I've found that treats bowlers with any respect is the Warner Bros. Studio Store. They seem to have an endless series of different T-shirts, polo shirts, caps, and very often bowling towels at any given time.

      Personally, I think these stores are losing out. For the time being, I spend all my "cool shirt" money at Warner Bros. now because they show us some respect. But it makes me wonder, where are all these marketing arms we keep hearing about? PBA, PWBA, ABC, WIBC, are you listening? Where were the PBA shirts at the 'Boat, or for that matter, why were there no PWBA shirts in the stores at Sam's? I don't know much about NASCAR (OK, I know they race cars, and I know the PBA sponsors a car). But bowling centers even cross-promote racing. When you see a NASCAR event, do you see bowling stuff for sale? Where are T-shirts with Parker Bohn or Pete Weber for crying out loud? If the PBA doesn't want to put them out, you'd think their ball companies would. Can't you see junior leaguers running around in "signature" T-shirts similar to the ones that depict NASCAR drivers, their cars, and their autograph?

      I wanted to go into the All Star Cafe and ask if they had perhaps a pair of Guppy's pants on display. Then, I saw the large security guard, and I figured it was just too hot to be thrown out on my head. Owned by the likes of Monica Seles, Tiger Woods, and Andre Agassi, it's the sports world's answer to Hard Rock Cafe or Planet Hollywood. I think it would be a reasonable assumption that the All Star Cafe would have something on all sports. But considering we don't even rate a Disney line, my guess is no one at the PBA has been there in order to say, "Here is something that people will drive for miles to see." I did peruse the display cases, and while the golf polos would be perfect for bowling, I refused. Out of principal. For now, my whole lot of Warner Bros. T-shirts will have to suffice.

Gotta Split,


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