Game rooms take their cue from pool tables
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- The constant and rapid advances in technology have opened up options when it comes to home recreation. Want to go bowling, play pool, shoot a round of golf in the comfort of your living room? Grab the remote and switch on ...
WALNUT CREEK, Calif. -- The constant and rapid advances in technology have opened up options when it comes to home recreation. Want to go bowling, play pool, shoot a round of golf in the comfort of your living room? Grab the remote and switch on the Wii for hours of virtual fun.
But those who prefer their recreation more hands-on and active may consider a game room. Play real pool with real cue sticks and watch real pool balls carom into challenging positions as they roll and rumble across an actual table.
That's what Geri and John Pruett of Dublin, Calif., do in their home game room. Their pool table is a refined blend of gray and black with leather ball pockets. Their game room -- formerly known as their son's bedroom -- has a dartboard and is decorated in a Harley-Davidson theme, with walls painted gray to complement the table.
The theme reflects John's love of Harleys. Geri gave him one for their 25th wedding anniversary.
"My midlife crisis," John says.
The game room brims with amenities. It has a bathroom and smoking area on the second-story landing for those who fancy a cigar between games. Then there's the wet bar where neatly stacked Harley glasses and other Hog items await thirsty guests.
The Pruetts' decision to get a pool table and create a game room sort of bucks the trend. Officials with Brunswick, a leading maker of pool tables, say that many parents set up game rooms to entice their children to hang out at home with friends. But it didn't work that way with the Pruetts.
Their son had wanted a pool table, but there wasn't a place in the house the Pruetts felt was right for a table. However, when their son headed to college in Southern California, out went his bed and in went the table.
The Pruetts always find time to play pool, sometimes as a couple and sometimes with their neighbors across the street, who also have a pool table.
It turns out the pool table even enhances dinner parties. When the food has been eaten and the conversation winds down at the dining table, they head with their guests for the pool table.
Not everyone has the space in their house, or even in their garage, for a pool table, so manufacturers are coming up with alternatives. Brunswick Billiards offers a waterproof table that can be set up outside. Ben Parvizi, who owns Parvizi Galleria in Walnut Creek, San Jose and Dublin, Calif., says they're also good for setting up near swimming pools because they can handle the moisture.
Parvizi's stores reflect the traditional trends in game rooms, with the hanging lights and tables that range from simple designs to those with elegantly sculpted legs and shiny fabric-fringed pockets. The latest in other game trends fills the rest of the store's space -- bars, tall cocktail tables and stools, poker tables, dartboards, air hockey tables and other accouterments.
E.J. Loferski, director of marketing for Brunswick, said pool table sales are stable. And the industry is seeing new interest in other game room items.
"Consumers are looking at more than pool for entertainment," he says. "The poker shows on TV have fueled the rise in poker table demand."
But pool still has its allure, particularly with families. "Our core customer is between 40 and 55, with preteen or teenage children. Their primary interest is to keep their kids home, so they give them an entertainment venue," Loferski says. "Customers continually tell us this has been great."
And it's not just for the men in the family. There are more women tournament pool players than men, Parvizi says, including Allison "the Duchess of Doom" Fisher and Jeanette "the Black Widow" Lee.
Pool table prices range from $1,700 to $25,000. Brunswick representatives say they began to make the under-$2,000 models to compete with the tables sold by big-box stores.