WRITER | SARAH SPOHN
PHOTO | HOLLAND BAR STOOL COMPANY
Did you know that Michigan and the Midwest both have a long history involving pool tables and the game of pool? The first-ever match with admission tickets sold was played in 1859 in Detroit at Fireman’s Hall. The winner, Michael Phelan, defeated Jim Seereiter and won $15,000.
Valley Co., founded in Bay City in 1947, was one of the larger manufacturers of billiard tables. The company eventually became Valley-Dynamo LLC and was bought by Brunswick Corporation in 2003. The J.M. Brunswick Manufacturing Company was founded in Cincinnati in 1845 as a carriage company and later became a billiard table manufacturer.
While not as many pool tables are made in Michigan these days, the sport’s rich history remains popular within the state.
Billiards is a game that welcomes players of all ages and skill levels, and many people even have a table in their home. Given that it’s smaller than a bowling lane or basketball court, this game has found its way into basements, dens, and even homeowners’ garages. Some have fashioned whole recreational or game rooms around the centerpiece: the green wool felt and the glistening oak or walnut wood frame.
If you’re looking at renovating a basement room, crafting a game den, or adding recreation to a bar or restaurant, pool tables are a go-to for many people. On the West side of the state, Holland Bar Stool Company has been crafting wooden stools, custom logo pool tables, and game rooms for more than 25 years. The company specializes in fully customizable home seating, décor, and rec room products.
When it comes to the pool tables themselves, Holland Bar Stool Company leads the way in providing full customization of their game tables. Director of Procurement & Supply Chain Oversight, Daniel Vriesman, said their niche market is officially licensed and custom logo game tables. “The fun begins when someone places an order,” he said. “The graphics are made and sent to our in-house laser machine, where the pool table is engraved, and the graphics are sprayed with a rich black paint, creating deep, black engraved graphics.”
Offering custom logo capabilities and logos officially licensed from the NCAA, the NHL, the US military, Indian Motorcycle, and the UFC, Holland Bar Stool Company crafts products for both homes and businesses. A few years ago, it created a sub-brand, Holland Gameroom, with its own line of pool tables and shuffleboard tables.
Vriesman said the handcrafted products emphasize quality, durability, and affordability, but it’s the in-house, made-to-order aspect that sets them apart from competitors. “A customer can select their finish color, their leg style, what billiard cloth color they would like with or without a logo, and what logos they would like laser-engraved into the wood panels,” he said. “We can outfit an entire home game room from our pool tables and shuffleboard tables to our pub tables and bar stools, to our wall décor. We offer a variety of billiard table accessories, including storage drawer, pool table cover, billiard lights, cue racks, billiard play kits, bar mirrors, neon clocks, wall clocks and signs, and more.”
Many retailers in Michigan offer pool tables, cues, and all of the supplies. You can plan on spending anywhere from around $500 to $35,000 for the table; those on the lower end of the price range tend to be lighter weight, smaller, and do not use slate for the tabletop. You can save on a high-quality table by purchasing one used.
A decent pool cue (stick) for a beginning player will cost $100-$150, though you can find less expensive ones. If not stored properly, cues will warp, something to consider in your overall plan. As for the balls, experts suggest spending a little more, as inexpensive balls tend not to hold up well and could damage your table. The cost for a decent set is between $100 and $200.
If you’re interested in pool but not sure where you can fit one in your home, you can find tables that are made for outdoor play.
No matter your skill level or space available for play, there is probably a table out there that can accommodate your needs.