The epitome of a wholesome, modest, Midwestern town is conveniently located across the street from the local high school. You can easily summon visions of generations of Lexington folks bowling in an alley that hasn’t changed much in the past 36 years. Strike and Spare Lanes depends not only on high schoolers dropping in on a Friday night, but also on league bowling. The scoring system is from 1984, the interior doesn’t look to have changed since then, but it’s all you need to have a cold beer and play a few games. It’s currently for sale, but according to owner Brad Larsen, there isn’t much interest from the corporate beasts. It seems to be fine with Brad; he’d probably miss it if he sold the place anyway.
Lexington is the kind of town people like to refer to as Main Street and wear the title as a badge of honor. Most people don’t concern themselves with IPOs or IPAs, and they’d just as soon keep it that way. The Walmart is the town’s social hub and the Tyson chicken plant is the engine that drives the city. While Lexington was hit hard by the recession, the Strike and Spare survived while many alleys across the country did not. Jobs are slowly coming back and Brad is hoping the bowlers as well.
With a population just under 10,000, this city is home to Bowladrome, Grinnell University, and not much else. It’s fairly standard for small Midwestern bowling alleys to close for the summer, because it’s too hot and people tend to gravitate to outdoor activities. We happened to catch the owner, Jim Buffum, as he was coming back from his summer sabbatical. The process usually takes about 3 weeks to get the lanes up and running again. The bowling alley’s regulars comprise of students from the university, as well as townies.