Do Bowling Alleys Sell Used Pins? The Best Places To Buy Secondhand Pins

Bowling is a simple game – all you need is a bowling ball, a lane, and 10 pins. Whether you’re an avid bowling enthusiast or you want to distract your kids with a new backyard game, you’re going to need a full set of 10 pins to make your own bowling setup.

Do Bowling Alleys Sell Used Pins? The Best Places To Buy Secondhand Pins

So, if you’ve got your own bowling ball, where can you find bowling pins?

You might not want to spend money on a set of new pins, especially if you’re not sure if they’re going to be used enough to justify the price. Therefore, you’ll need to look for some decent secondhand pins.

The question is, do bowling alleys sell used pins?

Here is everything you need to know about whether bowling alleys sell used bowling pins, and the best places to buy secondhand pins!

Do Bowling Alleys Sell Used Pins?

If you’re looking for a set of pins, the first place you should check is a bowling alley. This is because bowling alleys will often sell used pins for a low price.

However, this depends on the availability of the pins and the bowling alley’s policy on selling products to the public.

Bowling alleys don’t typically sell bowling equipment, so if you manage to find a place that sells used bowling pins, then the sale is going to be informal.

At the end of the day, bowling alleys aren’t going to use old bowling pins if they’ve recently had a delivery of new pins, and they would rather pass the used pins on than waste them.

So, if you’re lucky, then you might be able to buy some used pins at a bowling alley. It just depends on how many pins they’re willing to sell because they might only have 3 or 4 used pins to sell rather than a set of 10.

The cost of the bowling pins depends entirely on the decision of the manager.

Unless an employee has the authority to sell used pins, this responsibility typically lies on the manager, which is likely due to the fact that the profit will affect their taxes and monthly income.

If the bowling alley doesn’t have any used pins to sell, then it’s worth asking if they have any recommendations of somewhere that does sell used pins.

Also, for those conscious about the environment, purchasing used pins from a bowling alley is the most eco-friendly way to acquire bowling pins.

This is especially true if you’re buying the pins from a local bowling alley because you’ll also be supporting a local business!

Other Places To Buy Used Bowling Pins

How Much Do Bowling Pins Cost?

So, your local bowling alley doesn’t have any used pins to sell, or they have a policy that prevents them from selling used equipment. Here are some other places to buy used bowling pins.

Buy Online

You can buy pretty much everything online, including bowling pins! Buying bowling pins online, whether used or new, is the second most reliable way to acquire pins, after buying them at a bowling alley.

One of the best places to look for used bowling pins is Facebook Marketplace, which is where Facebook users can sell used and unloved objects, clothes, equipment, and more to the local community.

You never know, there could be an ex-bowling professional who is looking to part ways with their pins.

Otherwise, you can look on secondhand websites such as Craigslist or eBay. The cost of the pins will depend on the quality and condition, and the rarity of the pins.

The cost might also depend on the location of the seller, and keep in mind that shipping costs are likely to be high if you order all 10.

Thrift Store

While you might not turn to a thrift store when looking for some bowling pins, you never know.

After all, you can find virtually anything in a thrift store, so it’s worth checking out some local stores to see if anyone gave up their pins recently. This is also the cheapest way to acquire used bowling pins!

How Much Do Bowling Pins Cost?

The cost of bowling pins depends on the quality of the pins and the value of the pin type.

For example, if you’re going to buy a set of 10 pins in brand-new condition online, then you can expect to pay around $50-$100 for the whole set.

Even used pins will only cost around $30-$50 for a whole set, which is pretty affordable.

The key is to make sure you’re not being ripped off by sellers. Collectors will know the difference between legitimate and counterfeit rare pins, so it’s worth doing your research to make sure you know the true value of the pins.

Bowling Pin Types

Interestingly, there is more than one type of bowling pin. While you might associate pins with the classic tenpin bowling sets, there are actually other types of pins according to different types of bowling.

So, it’s important to know what type of pin you need to have your own bowling setup at home.


The most classic and common type of bowling pin is the ten-pin. These are tall pins, standing at around 15 inches tall and with a base diameter of 2.75 inches. The pins are white with one (or sometimes two) red stripes in the middle.

The shape of the ten-pin is designed to make them more stable, so they won’t easily knock down at the gentlest touch of a ball.

They typically weigh 3 pounds and 6 ounces. While this might sound redundant to the whole point of bowling, it makes the game more challenging and encourages players to roll their balls with more power.


Duckpin bowling is a variation of the classic bowling game, wherein the ball and pins are significantly smaller.

The balls, for example, can be held in one hand rather than two, and don’t feature holes. The pins are smaller than ten pins to coincide with the smaller balls.

In terms of their shape, duckpins are simply a smaller and stumpier version of the classic tenpin. Duckpins are just over 9 inches tall and have a significantly bigger middle section compared to tenpins.

Aside from the duckpin bowling variation, duckpins are popularly collected by professional bowlers for their unique appearance.


Five-pin bowling is another bowling variant played in Canada. It originated in 1909 when the owner of the Toronto Bowling Club was met with complaints that tenpin bowling was too difficult.

So, he cut down the pins to only five instead of ten and shortened the pins to about 75% of the original size.

To go with the smaller pins, he also made smaller, hand-sized rubber balls to act as a bowling ball. These pins are just over 12 inches tall and are made of hard, durable plastic.

To add some difficulty in knocking the pins over, the five pins are fitted with a protruding band towards the bottom to add some weight.


Candlepin bowling is another bowling variation commonly played in the New England part of the United States and the Canadian Maritime provinces.

These pins are tall and narrow to resemble candles, hence the name, making them certainly the most unique type of bowling pin you can find.

Standing at just over 15 inches, candlepins are slightly taller than classic tenpins.

While they are lighter than tenpins, the smaller bowling ball size that candlepins are actually difficult to knock over all at once. If you’re looking for a challenge, then buying a set of candlepins will do the trick.

What Are Bowling Pins Made Of?

Do Bowling Alleys Sell Used Pins - The Best Places To Buy Secondhand Pins

The majority of bowling pin types are made out of hardy wood, but some are made of dense plastic material.

Whatever the material, it all comes down to how the bowling pins are made and shaped, which is a surprisingly difficult task.

The weight and symmetry of bowling pins are essential to the game of bowling. Any alterations or mistakes and it will drastically affect the outcome of the pin’s performance.

Pin manufacturers must follow a set of strict guidelines to ensure that every pin is made equally and perfectly.

The key to making bowling pins is ensuring that they are highly durable. Pins go through a lot of abuse in the lane, being knocked over at varying speeds and weights from dense bowling balls.

This is why most bowling pins are made of maple wood, which is resistant to cracking and splintering.

The pins are then coated in a glossy, protective plastic exterior to prevent chipping, and then painted white with one or two red stripes.

While these pins are built to last, they will eventually give in to the abuse.

At some point, bowling pins are going to crack and be rendered useless, which is why some bowling alleys will sell their old pins. They will typically replace their bowling pins once every year or two years to keep the quality high.

How To Use Old Bowling Pins

There are multiple ways to use old bowling pins. Of course, you can make your own bowling set up in the backyard to keep the kids distracted, but the quality of the pins won’t be good enough to replicate an actual bowling alley.

So, if the quality of the bowling pins isn’t great, here are some other ways to use old bowling pins:

  • Decorate the pins and use them as a coffee table decoration/talking point
  • Turn them into table or chair legs
  • Turn them into lamps
  • Fix them around your garden
  • Attach them to walls

Bowling pins have such a classic appearance that they are ideal for any household that needs a splash of the stylish 1950s or 60s aesthetic.

Plus, if you’re a lover of bowling, then it only makes sense to decorate your house with the pins!


So, there you have it! Turns out, most bowling alleys will sell used bowling pins, but it really depends on whether they have enough in stock and if they have a policy that prevents them from selling equipment.

Still, there are other places to find used bowling pins, such as online or in a thrift store, so you don’t have to buy a new set.

Drew Kaufner