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Gowanus Shuffleboard Club Using Kickstarter to Make Both Money and Friends

By Leslie Albrecht | September 26, 2013 8:33am
 Donors to the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club's Kickstarter campaign can also sign up for the club's teams.
Gowanus Shuffleboard Club
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GOWANUS — The Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club is turning to online fundraising to bring in bucks — and buddies.

The shuffleboard club, now under construction on Union Street between Third Avenue and Nevins Street, launched a Kickstarter campaign Wednesday to raise the $20,200 needed to build the club's 10 regulation-size courts.

But the donation drive will also help the club — which will be the city's first — build a community, said co-founder Ashley Albert, who's starting the club with her friend Jonathan Schnapp.

Contributing to the Kickstarter campaign is the only way to sign up for the club's 60 league teams, which will eventually compete for the title of Brooklyn's first-ever shuffleboard champions.

"We've been working really hard to create a community around the shuffleboard club, and we've always thought of the Kickstarter campaign as a way to [do that]," Albert said. "We really love the idea of stocking our leagues before we open with friendly faces."

Albert said donors to the Kickstarter will get a special thrill when they play on courts that their money helped build. Construction on the club is expected to be finished by the end of November. It will then be available for private party rentals during December, and open to the general public in January 2014, Albert said.

The Kickstarter campaign expires in 30 days, at the same time Albert and Schnapp will be competing at the world shuffleboard championships in St. Petersburg, Fla. It was at that club in 2011 that the two friends fell in love with the game and hatched the idea of opening New York's first shuffleboard club.

The idea faced community opposition from neighbors worried about crowds and late-night noise, but Albert and Schnapp contended that the Royal Palms Shuffleboard Club would be a family-friendly venue appropriate for all ages.

After winning approval from Community Board 6 for a liquor license in September 2012, they set to work renovating the 17,000-square-foot warehouse that will eventually house the club. The past year has been a whirlwind of testing piña colada mixes, selecting flooring, negotiating toilet seat prices and scoping out tiki bands, Albert said.

The Kickstarter campaign, which had raised $9,673 from 98 backers by Wednesday evening, has been a happy break from the work of planning the club, she said.

"It feels like 100 pats on the back," Albert said. "We wanted to make money and have people join our leagues, but I forgot that what that meant is that is people saying, 'Yes, I’m excited for you.'”