Do Bowling Alleys Sell Used Pins? (Quick Answer)

You’ve probably had the experience of going bowling with friends, spending a fun afternoon trying to knock all the pins down.

But have you ever wondered what happens to those pins once you’re done? Do bowling alleys collect used pins and send them off somewhere else for reuse, or do they just throw them away?

Continue reading to find out if bowling alleys sell their old pins!

Do bowling alleys sell used pins?

Yes, many bowling alleys do offer used bowling pins for sale. As bowling pins are eventually removed from service due to various reasons like wear and tear, these alleys often decide to sell them at a discounted price.

Some of the reasons that bowling alleys retire pins include chips, cracks, and scuffs from frequent use. According to the American Bowling Congress, there are strict regulations that mandate when pins must be retired. Once retired, these pins often find new homes as decoration pieces or for use in local leagues and tournaments that don’t require formal standards.

You may find these used pins for sale at the front desk, pro shop, or sometimes online through the bowling alley’s website. Asking the staff at the bowling alley can also yield information on when they might be retiring pins, and if there’s a waiting list for purchase or an upcoming sale.

How much should you pay for used pins from a bowling alley?

do bowling alleys sell used pins

Typically, used bowling pins can be found in various price ranges.

For instance, a single used pin in decent condition might be sold for as low as $2, whereas a set of ten pins could go for around $20-$30.

However, if you’re seeking collector’s items or specialized pins, such as pins autographed by professional bowlers or rare vintage pins, be prepared to shell out anywhere from $30 to $50 per pin. 

It’s also a good idea to purchase your pins in bulk or as a set, as this usually results in a better overall price compared to buying them individually.

What to look for when buying old pins from a bowling alley?

When searching for old pins from a bowling alley, it’s essential to keep some crucial factors in mind to ensure you make the most out of your purchase. Begin by assessing the historical value of the pins. Determine which era they belong to; the older the pins, the more value they may hold for collectors. Research the specific designs and markings on the pin to get a better understanding of their origin and rarity.

Next, closely examine the material used in the construction of the pins, as it significantly impacts the quality and durability of the pins. Typically, vintage bowling pins were made from hard maple wood or plastic-coated wood. The wooden pins may have softened over time or developed cracks, reducing their structural integrity. However, some collectors might view these signs of wear as markers of authenticity and charm.

Bear in mind the condition and cleanliness of the pins, as this will heavily influence their value. Check for signs of damage or deterioration, such as chipping, cracks, discolored surfaces or faded markings. Additionally, look for any stains or residual adhesive that may indicate improper care or storage. Though some pins may require restoration or refinishing, try to find ones that have been well-maintained throughout their lifetime.

It’s also essential to pay attention to the paintwork found on the pins, as it adds to their visual appeal and may hint at their historical context. Look for pins with legible and vibrant logos or graphics, and avoid ones with significant paint deterioration, bleached or flaking surfaces. Authentic vintage pins often have hand-painted details, so be on the lookout for subtle imperfections or unique touches that distinguish them from mass-produced reproductions.

Furthermore, consider the completeness of the pin set. While individual pins may catch your eye, acquiring a full set of pins from a particular era, manufacturer or design can significantly boost their collective value. Also, keep an eye out for any corresponding memorabilia, such as vintage scorecards or promotional materials, that provide context and enhance the overall appeal of the collection.

Finally, don’t forget to inquire about the pins’ provenance, as they may originate from a famous bowling alley or be associated with a renowned player. Obtaining this background information can not only provide personal satisfaction but also increase the value of your collection, especially if you can verify its authenticity through documentation or photographs.

How to ask bowling alley managers for used pins for sale?

Here are some detailed steps to guide you in the process of asking bowling alley managers for used pins that are available for sale.

1. Research local bowling alleys: Firstly, compile a list of bowling alleys in your area by browsing through local directories, social media pages, or online search engines. It’s also a good idea to familiarize yourself with their websites to understand their general operations, opening hours, and featured programs.

2. Prepare a pitch: Before contacting the bowling alley managers, prepare a brief and informative pitch explaining why you are interested in purchasing used bowling pins. This may include your plans for repurposing the pins, your enthusiasm for the sport of bowling, or your intention to support local businesses by recycling used materials.

3. Choose the right time: Bowling alleys can be quite busy, especially during league nights and peak weekend hours. Identifying a suitable time to approach the managers is crucial to ensure that they can give you their undivided attention. It’s usually better to visit the alleys during their less busy hours, such as weekday mornings or early afternoons.

4. Dress formally and present yourself professionally: As the saying goes, first impressions are lasting impressions. Dressing neatly and demonstrating a courteous approach can help to establish trust and credibility. Introduce yourself politely and clearly state your purpose for visiting the establishment.

5. Provide mutual benefits: When speaking with the bowling alley managers, highlight the potential benefits of selling used pins to you. For instance, you can emphasize how purchasing used pins can help free up storage space at their facility or contribute to environmental sustainability efforts by keeping used pins out of landfills.

6. Show openness to negotiation: Being open to negotiation can increase the chances of a successful transaction. In some cases, managers might be willing to trade pins for other services, such as offering to volunteer at an event in exchange for the pins.

7. Offer a fair price: Once you gain the managers’ interest, negotiate the price reasonably. Some alley managers may have experience selling pins to others, so remember to give a competitive offer to secure the deal.

8. Express gratitude and maintain contact: Regardless of the outcome of your request, always thank the managers for their time and consideration. Exchanging contact information can leave the door open for future collaboration if they have pins available later.


Whether you’re a veteran bowler looking to augment your collection or a novice wanting to try out your pins for the first time, buying used bowling pins can be an exciting and rewarding experience.

While there are risks involved when spending money on previously owned items, you can mitigate these chances by researching your options diligently and asking the right questions.

Of course, always make sure to examine pins carefully in person and keep your expectations realistic; even if used pins are generally more affordable than new ones, they may still require fine-tuning or other maintenance before they reach peak performance!

With the right process and a passable amount of luck, you should be able to find exactly what you need without breaking the bank. Good luck with your next strike!

Last updated on March 15, 2023