For one Colorado Spring entertainment venue, the business of virtually killing people with lasers will die on Jan.6.

Laser Quest, which opened in 1996 in a standalone building at the Rustic Hills North shopping center, will close after more than a decade of seeing its customer counts decrease, said Steve Harclerode, general manager.

A once booming shopping center at 1605 N. Academy Blvd., Rustic Hills has had trouble attracting new tenants as the city's business and residential populations moved north and east. Harclerode said Laser Quest owners "kept hoping" retailers and customers would return to the Rustic Hills center, but they never did.

"It was pretty full at one time," Harclerode said. "Now, we are in a mall that is pretty much vacant."

More than 1.25 million games have been played at Laser Quest since it opened, but the number should have been higher, he said.

"In 2005, we averaged 2,000 plays a week," Harclerode said. "Now, we are down to 600 to 800 plays a week."

Laser Quest, a chain based in Mississauga, Ontario, will not relocate in Colorado Springs, said Harclerode, who is the only full-time employee left at the location. There are nine part-time employees, ages 16 to 22.

Laser Quest is not selling any of its equipment. What cannot be used at other locations will be donated to charity, Harclerode said.

But the company is holding a sale on the cost of playing laser tag while the business is still open. Laser tag games are priced at $5 per game when two or more games are purchased at the same time. The original price was $8.50.

Harclerode said the opening of other laser tag game operations in the city didn't help Laser Quest's bottom line, but those locations were not a single source of competition for the company.

"Everything is competition, from movie theaters to anything you spend your leftover money on," he said.


Contact Ned Hunter: 636-0275.