Holly, MI — January 25, 2021
Dave Portnoy and Barstool Sports are an internet juggernaut. The controversial online commentator and celebrity has grown his web empire into a multi-million dollar enterprise. There is no middle ground, people either love him or hate him. However, Portnoy knows that whether you are talking good or bad about him, you are talking. And that is a big part of the success story around Barstool Sports.
Portnoy also understands the proverb that says “To whom much is given, much is required.” Recognizing the toll the COVID pandemic is taking on America’s small businesses, Portnoy decided he wanted to help. With $500,000 of his own money, he started The Barstool Fund. To date, the fund has raised over $30 million dollars, had over 200,000 individuals donate, and helped 175 small businesses to stay open and work through the daily challenges of COVID.
One of those businesses is located right here in Fenton, MI.
How It Works
By accepting cash donations and selling custom-designed clothing the fund is growing at a remarkable rate. Buy a shirt online and 100% of the net proceeds go towards supporting small businesses.
Small business owners in need of help due to the impacts of COVID, can submit an application at TheBarstoolFund.com/apply. That is precisely what Brian Aubuchon, owner of Holly Lanes, did. Every day!
Building a Family Legacy
Brian has owned Holly Lanes for the past nine years. When he bought the place it was just a rundown old bowling alley. Brian put every dollar he had into purchasing the business and spent countless hours working to improve the place and its reputation.
Since the beginning, Brian has employed the adage “Burn the boats.” In 1519, the Spanish explorer Cortés landed in Veracruz and ordered that the boats that had brought them to the new land be burned. The message to his men was “conquer or die.”
With the help of his wife, Tina, and five children, two of which have special needs. Brian and his family built what is now the premier bowling entertainment venue in our area. Catering to the community, the Aubuchon family has staged countless fundraisers to help local causes. Hosted high school bowling tournaments allowing schools to offer the sport to their students. Never hesitating to help someone in need.
Paying it Forward
Some people just instinctively give of themselves. Paying it forward is what the Aubuchon’s are all about. Taking their earnings and pouring it back into the business and using the business to uplift the community.
The pandemic has taken a toll on everyone in one way or another. Truthfully, some small businesses have suffered to a greater degree than others. Holly Lanes features a restaurant and a sport that enhances social gathering. They have been prevented from conducting business much of last year as a result of COVID restrictions.
Brian estimates during a normal year the facility is open 270 days. In 2020, Holly Lanes welcomed guests on just 66 days.
Stay Positive and Be Persistent
Rather than blame the circumstances on someone else, Brian chose to stay the course and make the best of things. He retained his full-time employees and paid them to do extra tasks and maintenance that the business needed. Brian himself looked at the time away from Holly Lanes as a blessing to spend more quality time with his family. Working 80 to 100 hours in a normal week, he took advantage of the chance to stay at home.
When things were tight for his key people, he would pay an electric bill or help out with another expense to see that they got by. As the pandemic dragged on he looked for ways to bring in extra cash. Dressing up as Santa and selling photo ops at the business site. They even held a cookout fundraiser that allowed the community, Brian and his family served so faithfully, to pay back their generosity.
“It was awesome to see how many from the area came by to say hang in there, we appreciate you, and to make donations,” Brian said. “That was another blessing to feel the love people returned to us for something small we had done in their life for them or by helping a friend or neighbor.”
Time Was Running Out
As the pandemic wore on and the funds got shorter Brian, once again, had to return to the “burn the boats mentality.” “It looked like we were going to lose everything as 2020 came to a close.” Brian and Tina sat down and had some difficult decisions to make.
“I asked Tina if we should just pack it in? Her response! No Way, we are going to keep fighting.” They had heard about The Barstool Fund and figured why not just give it a shot. The miracle of receiving help from Portnoy was indeed a long shot. The fund was receiving 7,000-10,000 requests a day for assistance.
Brian prepared a video, sent it in, and then in the ultimate display of persistence contacted Barstool every day to followup. Click the link below to see the last video he submitted.
The Holly Lanes story struck home. They were noticed among the thousands of requests flooding into Barstool Sports. Why? Because of Brian and his never give up persistence.
Well it’s official now! David Portnoy – El Presidente and Barstool Sports and #barstoolfund they are now official part…
Holly Lanes Bowling Center is reopening on February 2nd. Brian had two more fundraisers planned to help the business hang on a little longer. True to form, with Holly Lanes now restored to a stable financial footing, those fundraisers will go on. But, the beneficiaries will be individuals in the local community who are in need.
Thank you, Brian, and congratulations on your well-deserved success. We are happy to tell the story.
Holly Lanes is located at 2430 Grange Hall Road, Fenton, MI 48430. Stop by and talk to Brian about your next big event, birthday celebration, corporate party, family get together, or just to throw a few balls. All proper COVID protocols are in place.