Written by Gabriel Dillard
There’s a good chance your favorite business is endangered by the continued lockdown on businesses due to Covid-19.
Maybe there’s a place you didn’t go to as often before the pandemic, but it holds a certain nostalgia in your heart, so you would hate to see it go.
For me, that’s Freeway Lanes in Selma, which posted an urgent notice on its Facebook page that it is reopening on Friday (against current guidelines). It also started a GoFundMe campaign in hopes of raising $80,000.
After about half a day, it has raised just shy of $500.
Built in 1960 and under ownership of the Maldonado family since 1976, Freeway Lanes is a Selma institution that has hosted countless field trips, league tournaments, fundraisers and parties of all kinds. But it has been closed for more than six months now, and has lost 70% of its 2020 revenue and at least 30% of its 2021 projected revenue, according to the GoFundMe page.
Current operators Mark and Griselda Maldonado have used most of their savings in an attempt to stay afloat.
“Even with PPP and SBA loans, it is extremely difficult to foresee a positive outcome,” according to the GoFundMe page. “Your donations would help us get through the 20-21 year while we navigate the constraints our governor has placed on us.”
While the interior of Freeway Lanes has been updated for the times, the exterior is a blast from the past. The “Bowl at Freeway Lanes” sign in its day must have called to countless motorists along the old Highway 99 (now Golden State Boulevard).
For older millennials like me, Freeway Lanes also represents a time in the ‘90s when ska music was enjoying yet another revival. Hoover High School hosted a series of ska concerts, with bands featuring what seemed like 30 people on the stage playing actual instruments, whipping sweaty students in the audience into a skanking frenzy.
One local band called “Let’s Go Bowling” were the elder statesmen on the scene. Formed in 1986, Let’s Go Bowling put out a couple of albums with art featuring Freeway Lanes, including a live album called “Freeway Lanes” in 1998.
For a Selma High School band geek at the time, it didn’t really get cooler than that.
The point is that each business has a story, and with those stories come lasting connections with customers that remain even as times change. The coronavirus, and the ongoing measures to combat Covid-19, are an existential threat to those businesses.
As Fresno County awaits word Tuesday on whether it can move up the governor’s tier for business reopenings, one can only hope the powers that be will keep in mind the economic as well as emotional toll that this nightmare time has had on all of us.