Changing Lanes

TERRY SCHAAR, along with his wife, Lisa, are bidding an emotional farewell to Tracy Lanes, which has been in the Schaar family for more than four decades. The couple practically raised their three children there, and they say while it will be nice to have more free time, walking away from what has been such a big part of their family’s life will be difficult.

Future of  Tracy Lanes— a fixture for decades under the watch of two generations of Schaars — will soon be in the hands of Jeff and Jeanne Knott

By Per Peterson

A 1983 fire robbed Tracy of its bowling alley at a time when the sport was considered far more than just a pastime. But that wasn’t nearly the end of Tracy Lanes.

Gary and Barb Schaar weren’t about to let that happen, and the couple worked quickly to renovate a building on Morgan Street to bring bowling back to the community. Today, more than 35 years after one of Tracy’s most memorable and tragic fires, their son, Terry, and his wife, Lisa, are making sure the future of Tracy Lanes is in good hands.

The Schaars are selling Tracy Lanes to Jeff and Jeanne Knott, who will officially take over in the next couple of weeks. The Schaars decided a couple of years ago to put Tracy Lanes up for sale, knowing full well that they didn’t want to turn the business over to just anyone.

“Terry would never put the ‘for sale’ sign out in front,” Lisa said. “I begged him. I said, ‘How are people going to know?’ So it just stayed on the listing.”

Lisa said outside interest in the bowling alley was low for more than a year. Ironically, it was about the time when they took the Lanes off the listing that someone stepped forward. That was during Thanksgiving time last year when the Knotts approached Terry.

“Cookie and Steve, Jeanne and Jeff and their three kids came in … and he told us that was the night he told his wife,’ This place is for sale,’” Terry said. “We finally met at our house, and the rest is history.”

JEFF AND JEANNE KNOTT — soon-to-be new owners of Tracy Lanes — are excited to carry on Tracy’s bowling tradition, and it’s likely bowlers will see the Knott’s three daughters — Elsie, Shelby and Marin — around the alley playing and working.

Jeff and Jeanne Knott aren’t bowling experts, but they are looking forward to carrying on the bowling tradition the Schaar family has built over the last four decades

Thanksgiving is a time for family, a time to get together with loved ones and give thanks for what you have in your life. Apparently, it’s also a good time to decide to buy a business.

Jeff and Jeanne Knott will soon be the new owners of Tracy Lanes, a longtime staple in downtown Tracy. And the process of taking over the business started, strangely enough, last Thanksgiving.

“Somebody said this place was for sale and I said, ‘What’s going to happen with it,’” Jeff said. “It was kind of a crazy idea that kept brewing. But it seems that bowling is kind of coming back, and this kept building in our heads. So Jeanne and I were talking one night and we said, ‘Let’s do it.’”

With that, the future of an iconic Tracy business with a history surpassed only by a handful of others, was put in the hands of the Knotts.

Jeff said the vision for Tracy Lanes going into the future is to have the alley open more often, with extended hours, and specials so people have more opportunities to enjoy the sport.

“It seems like people are looking for something to do in Tracy especially kids — socialize instead of just typing to each other,” he said. “Socialize, exercise, get off their screens. We’ve lost the ability as a society to communicate; we’re all so compartmentalized. There’s no other place to hang out as a family, or with friends or as kids in this town. That’s really what got me excited about it.”

See this week’s Headlight Herald for more on this article.