MARYSVILLE — Allan Jones is an entrepreneur who specializes in “a little original” ideas. He made his fortune through robotic ice cream machines and trampoline parks.
Now the founder and CEO of VOLLI Entertainment is focused on what he calls “the next evolution of our business”: pickleball.
VOLLI will open a pickleball sports bar in Marysville on July 8. The 22,000-square-foot space will have indoor courts and other activities such as golf simulators, shuffleboard, darts, a game room and cornhole. An indoor restaurant and bar will have wall-mounted televisions broadcasting sports.
Jones calls the whole concept “ultra-entertainment.”
Soft openings are planned for the bar, located at 9315 State Avenue, Suite E, ahead of the grand opening. The planned Marysville location was previously the home of Costless Warehouse until the furniture store moved.
VOLLI Marysville has no entry fee, but court rental is $10 per hour per person.
“We’re making a significant investment in the city to do it,” Jones said. “These things are not cheap. This is a first class, AAA-plus construction. So we’re very confident that this will not just be a hit, but a huge hit.”
Pickleball is a sport played with wooden paddles and a plastic ball, similar to tennis, badminton, and ping-pong. It was first played in 1965 on Bainbridge Island and is named after the dog of one of the founders. Pickleball is considered by many to be the fastest growing sport in America, and in March 2022, it became the official state sport of Washington.
Senator John Lovick, D-Mill Creek, sponsored that bill and authored another bill that authorized the creation of a pickleball license plate in April.
Randy Gritton, president of the Marysville Pickleball Club, has been following the news about VOLLI Marysville. He said it’s “an interesting concept,” even if most players prefer to play outdoors when possible. The popular place in the city to play pickleball is Jennings Memorial Park. Last summer, eight outdoor pickleball courts at the park opened to the public, according to the North County Outlook.
Gritton believes that members of the club could use VOLLI Marysville for league play or in bad weather. The group established in 2017 currently has about 150 members.
“On hot days, when we have them here, having an indoor place to play will be amazing,” Gritton said. “We’ll be there often.”
VOLLI opened its first location two years ago in Bellingham to meet what Jones sees as a growing demand for indoor pickleball courts.
“It’s just exploding,” Jones said. “So if you’re looking for any kind of retail concept in the country, there wouldn’t be anything that came close to the excitement and growth of pickleball.”
When it comes to his startups, Charleston, South Carolina-based Jones said “one concept leads to the next.” He co-founded Robofusion, which created and sold robotic frozen yogurt and ice cream kiosks. He said that many of his clients were trampoline parks and, seeing his success, he went into business.
He and other family members own rides across the country, including Altitude Trampoline Park in Marysville and Summit Adventure Park in Bellingham. And it’s this familiarity with the area that led VOLLI to open its second location in Snohomish County.
“I’m interested in things that are fun,” Jones said. “If you can go work inside a VOLLI or an adventure park, or build robotic ice cream machines, I mean, why not?”
VOLLI Marysville, first announced in November 2021, originally planned to open in the summer of 2022, but was delayed. More than 50 people will be hired to work at the location, which Jones envisions as the “main place in town to hang out.”
Jones is developing a third VOLLI location in Texas. He also wants to franchise and open five or six more pickleball sports bars throughout Washington.
“We are in the early stages of this,” Jones said of the business concept. “We think there will be a lot of them in the United States in the not too distant future.”
For more information, visit vollimarysville.com.
Eric Schucht: 425-339-3477; [email protected]; Twitter: @EricSchucht.