MOORESVILLE, N.C. — Despite North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper’s orders to keep gyms and bowling alleys closed, the owner of Victory Lanes in Mooresville said he can’t afford to lose any more money. Now, he’s back in business.
Owner Paul Kreins said he has taken one hit too many thanks to COVID-19. He claims he has lost nearly $800,000 in revenue after the state forced him to close his business in March.
He said he is no longer waiting for the green light, and opening his doors.
“It made absolutely no sense that we couldn’t open, yet all these other businesses could,” Kreins said.
Recreational businesses including bowling alleys were set to reopen under the state’s Phase 2 plan. That got pushed back followed by the delay of Phase 3, a move Cooper doubled down on when he vetoed a bill Thursday that would have allowed bowling alleys to legally reopen.
“I’m absolutely in support of stopping the virus. I want to do that. But, I want to do it fairly for all businesses,” he said.
The decision comes amid the Iredell County Health Department confirming a cluster of COVID-19 cases at the Primrose School of Lake Norman.
The childcare facility is less than a mile and a half away from Kreins, but he maintains his business is safer than most.
“We can control where people sit. We can control the distance between people. You can’t do that in a lot of environments,” Kreins said.
Sanitizer is scattered throughout the 48,000 square foot building, masks are encouraged and only half of the 40 lanes are open.
“I guess there’s a little more spacing, a little more social distancing here,” customer Mike Cotton said.
Kreins said he has had a number of complaints against him, with even a few visits from Mooresville Police, but the department told Channel 9 they have not cited him.
“I was ready to come back and support their decision,” bowler Caroline Thesier said.
Kreins said he’s willing to risk a fine and even jail time in order to stay open. He’s also part of a lawsuit that’s petitioning the court to legally reopen bowling alleys across the state.
So far, a judge has not made a decision.
“To say it’s irresponsible that I’m not respecting the mandate? I respected it just fine up until it got political,” he said.
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