KELOWNA – After 31 years of being Kelowna’s only country bar, the OK Corral is struggling to survive.
The nightclub, one of the few in Kelowna not located downtown, has seen a dramatic drop in attendance over the last two years, says marketing director Angie Clowry.
“The last few years have not been successful,” she says. “While some may say country music is at its peak and those who love it should flock here, that hasn't been the case.”
Clowry estimates their attendance is down by more than half and hopes that they can appeal to the public to help keep the iconic club in business.
DJ turned manager Andy Bowie has two-stepped up and agreed to pay from his own pocket to keep the doors open a while longer, but says the future is uncertain.
"We have a few months to financially turn the place around,” he says.
Clowry cites several reasons why they are struggling, including the emergence of several new hotspots downtown like BNA and Cactus Club, the isolated location and the difficulty getting taxis on busy nights. Still, Clowry says management remains confident with a little support they can continue to be the Okanagan’s favourite country bar.
“(Bowie) believes he has the right team in place to make the only country night club in the Okanagan valley a regular popular night spot again,” Clowry says. “We have had a good, hard look at ourselves, have made changes and we aren’t done yet.”
Bowie is asking those who haven’t been to the OK Corral in a while to come back and give it another try.
They have made several changes recently, including the addition of a room dedicated to Arnie the two-stepping cowboy, a new outdoor smoking area modeled to look like an old fashioned Western Saddlery and Friday Night Date Night two-stepping lessons.
On Thursday nights the mechanical bull will continue to take the centre of the dance floor with Drink The Bar Dry Mechanical Bull Night, which includes line dancing lessons with Celeste Sali.
“We have a lot going for us,” Bowie says. “We have this outstanding group of young people who love to dance who have been showing up Tuesday nights for their own country dance practice, they are the ones flipping each other around on the dance floor Thursdays, Friday and Saturdays. (It’s) a sight to see."
Clowry says they will also be holding fundraisers two Friday’s a month starting Nov. 6 with proceeds going to a West Kelowna man who was seriously injured in a construction accident.
“In all honesty we are asking people to come back,” Bowie says. “We are local. We are small. But we are all heart. Now that there is a passionate group of people helping out we feel really good about this, but we do need those boots walking through the doors, buying a drink, having a dance and getting a safe ride home afterwards.”
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