Saturday, August 11, 2001

Bowling shoes walking away from alleys

By Emily Biuso
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        They're smelly, old and ugly, but lately bowling shoes are a hot item among teen-agers and top designers.

        And we do mean hot.

        Bowling shoes have been walking away from local alleys in large numbers in recent months while designer look-alikes have been showing up in boutique windows.

        Sure, free is cheaper than the $155 Kenneth Cole and $94 Steve Madden are charging for theirs, but who would want shoes that half the Tristate has worn?

        Bryon Herbstreit, manager of Del-Fair Lanes in Delhi Township, says most of the culprits are teen-agers.

        The shoes are “in style to wear in school now,” he said.

        Mr. Herbstreit estimates that he's lost 300 pairs in the last nine months. At any one time he probably stocks 400 pairs.

        Mike Dennis, general manager of Super Bowl in Erlanger, said he loses 40 to 50 pairs every few months. Men's shoes in sizes larger than 10 are the most likely to disappear, he said.

        Super Bowl has built a new shoe storage counter with numbered bins that have corresponding numbered shoes, so that it's easier to detect when shoes are missing. It plans to install the system in about a week.

        Also, instead of requiring a dollar deposit when customers borrow shoes, Super Bowl will ask patrons to give up one of their shoes in exchange for a pair to wear on the lanes.

        The disappearing act has bowling alley managers bewildered. Mr. Dennis never thought Super Bowl's two-toned, glow-in-the-dark, rubber-soled oxfords were designer material.

        “They make them ugly so they won't take them.”


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