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Brattleboro Bowl gets boost from Barstool Sports

Published: Feb. 22, 2021 at 6:30 PM EST
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BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (WCAX) - COVID-19 has hit small businesses especially hard and that includes Brattleboro Bowl. But the business currently has reason to celebrate, thanks in part to Barstool Sports.

“I was pretty blown away,” said Kevin Napaver, the co-owner of Brattleboro Bowl.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” said Napaver’s wife, Andrea Papanek.

Andrea Papanek and her husband Kevin Napaver have owned Brattleboro Bowl for about three years. Needless to say, 2020 was a gutter ball.

“The initial impact was the cease of operations on March 17th,” Napaver said.

The lanes were completely empty for three months. And business has still not returned to normal. But, it wasn’t just the bottom line that was suffering. Brattleboro Bowl builds community.

“This place means a lot to a lot of people and it means a lot to us, of course, and we spend all of our time here really and the thought that it might go away was frightening,” Papanek said.

But the sports fans were not ready to call it quits. Cue a football analogy.

“It was like an 80 yard Hail Mary I could only throw it forty. So, we never pursued it and then one day we thought, let’s give this a shot,” Napaver said.

Their shot was a quick video to Barstool Sports. It’s a website dedicated to sports and pop culture. In December of last year, the founder of Barstool Sports, Dave Portnoy, created a fund to help businesses that were struggling during the pandemic.

“There is no right and wrong reason why we are choosing one business versus another. They speak to us for whatever reason. Again, I wish we could help them all. We are going to try to help as many as we can and try to keep these small businesses alive. That’s the plan. Is it perfect? Probably not? But it is better than nothing,” Portnoy explains online at Barstool Sports.

To date, the Barstool Fund has raised over $36 million and helped close to 300 businesses. A strike for those on the receiving end.

“It’s promising knowing that there is a future in this and there is an endgame and people will help you get through it,” Napaver said.

“For what might seem like a small amount of money for some people, for each business that has given that money, it is lifesaving,” Papanek said.

The business owners declined to tell me exactly how much money they got but they did tell me that it would cover the mortgage and payroll for the next three months. And while there is uncertainty with COVID-19 moving forward, they say the Barstool Fund gives peace of mind right now.

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