Kowalski Bros. still rolling after all these years
Bowling supply, trophy biz sees renewed interest
The bowling business isn't what it used to be, but it sure isn't striking out either.
"It's coming back in schools," said Russ Kowalski, who co-owns the family-run Kowalski Bros. bowling supply and trophy business with his sister-in-law, Susan.
From school gym classes to youth leagues, kids are bowling. And parents are watching, as Kowalski found out when he went to see his grand-daughter compete recently.
"It was like going to a football game," Kowalski said. "It's been a giant boon for the industry."
It's progress, even if the comeback isn't quite full-circle from the heyday of Milwaukee-area bowling - when blue-collar workers on three shifts kept lanes busy with leagues for 12 hours a day. It was the time when Kowalski's father, Peter, moved to the Brew City to be part of one of the bowling meccas of the United States.
"He went to a map, and there were two cities that had the largest number of bowlers per capita: Milwaukee and St. Louis. He opted for Milwaukee," Kowalski said.
So, in 1949, Peter Kowalski sold his bowling alleys in New Jersey and moved north with his brother, Vincent, to start Kowalski Bros. - one three outfits in the Milwaukee area to offer bowling balls, bags and shoes at the time.
In 1970, when Russ and his brother, Peter, took over and moved the shop to Wauwatosa, the second generation of Kowalski brothers added trophies and awards to the inventory.
"Art was my avocation. I just followed that little dream of mine. It started as a sideline. But, 30 years later, it's taken over to be equal to, if not more than, the bowling. I've had the best of both worlds," Kowalski said.
At 72, his days in the bowling business are numbered, Kowalski said.
"Everyone wants me to retire, but I don't want to retire. I still have the best of both worlds right now. I'm busy. And I love what I do."
If you would like to suggest a business to be featured in the Business Spotlight, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org or call (262) 446-6643.
JUST THE FACTS
BUSINESS: Kowalski Bros.
ADDRESS: 3136 N. Mayfair Road
PHONE: (414) 453-2925
OWNERS: Russ and Susan Kowalski
TYPE OF BUSINESS: bowling supplies, awards and trophies
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Business Spotlight: From 'bowling ball' to fitness trainer, Tony Becker's been there
- Business Spotlight: Incentive Gallery, without inventory, delivers the perfect thing
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Cafe Blue takes pleasure in providing simple pleasures
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Alicia Haugen, mom and designer, got into social media early
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: At Hoppe Tree Service, listening may be the most important thing
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Chiropractor says it's not just about the spine
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Daly's is helping to bring the fountain pen back
- Business Spotlight: Spring is here and gardens are blooming
- Business Spotlight: Empire Fish
- Business Spotlight: The Lutheran Home & Harwood Place
- Business Spotlight: Valentine business partners found coffee kept calling them back
- Business Spotlight: Running a remodeling company no strain in family-owned business
- Business Spotlight: The Malt Shoppe isn't selling milk shakes
- Midtown Dental Care is 'home-like' for new and long-term patients
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Gigi's satisfies even the biggest craving for cupcakes
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight: Therapist finds himself enriched by a life shaped by transitions
- Business Spotlight: Milwaukee Map surveys the world from a small store near you
- Wauwatosa Business Spotlight Yoga instructor practiced the art before it was all the rage
- Business Spotlight: Alfa Flower shop weathered some tough years, and has flourished in the economic
- The wheel of life keeps rolling at Johnson's bike store