I’ve been watching a lot of buy and sell action going on within Facebook groups that help people find a pair of skates. Before COVID19 hit, banter was mostly among experienced skaters with high-end equipment that was refurbished and sold. Now the traffic is mostly hawking “brand-new, worn once for 20 minutes” cheap brands that were purchased online and don’t fit.
Many of these sellers hopped on the re-surging quad roller skate bandwagon, causing demand to outstrip supply in what was once a quiet marketplace. One seller offered up used rental skates for more than $100 that were 40 years old, and needed a complete overhaul before they are safe to use again. In fact, the plate may be the only thing salvageable. The buyers will have to shell out another $250+ for boots, laces, toe stops, wheels, bearings, wheel nuts, pivot cups, cushions, and possibly axles. And don’t forget the mounting hardware and probably a Dremel tool to saw off the old boots.
Your skates don’t fit for a few reasons. One, the sizes among the different brands vary. And the only way to determine your best size is to trace your foot. You can’t rely on “oh, I usually wear an 8 medium in a lady’s shoe.” There are so many variables. How high is your instep? What is the span between the ball of your foot and your heel? What are the total overall inches from the tallest toe to the heel? And don’t forget the width from the widest part of the foot. I often see new faces at the rink wearing gear that wasn’t properly sized. And I know why they won’t be skating for long. The skater’s feet weren’t measured and sized by a professional skate tech. Yes, it matters. And now those $150 skates they bought online will be up for sale.
Sales have exploded for colorful brands, such as Moxi Lollies, Beach Bunnies, Sure Grip Boardwalks, and others like Chaya and Impala. Skaters performed in them on Tik Tok and people stuck at home decided they should start skating. They bought what these Tik Tok influencers were promoting. Good skaters understand how a skate is supposed to fit and will give them a test run before buying them. Purchasing skates online is risky. For one, if they don’t fit, they’re a hassle to resell to someone else. For another, if they weren’t mounted correctly (it happens more than you think) or something breaks, you could be seriously hurt. Plus, rink operators are going to charge you quite a bit to fix the skates, if they can even source parts for them. Some of these emerging brands are using different sizes for wheel nuts or have a design that doesn’t allow a standard toe stop change. Once they fail, you’re out of luck.
Your feet are as unique as your mouth. In dentistry, there is rarely a one-size, fits-all solution. Whether it’s a filling, or an implant, someone had to make it to fit you or it’s going to not feel right in your mouth. The same should go for your skates. If saving $20 grand on a broken arm puts it in better perspective, then take heed. Investing in a GOOD pair of skates at $600 and up costs a lot less than a trip to the emergency room. You’ll skate better and be more relaxed. And in the event that you do fall, you lessen the impact when you’re relaxed.
Your local roller rink or an experienced skate tech should be your “go-to” source when it comes to roller skating. The pro will ask you how you skate, where you skate, how often you skate, measure your feet, and make a recommendation based on your budget. Don’t expect a quality skate for less than $250. But $600 and should get you a nice set up in just about any brand. And don’t forget the real cost if you go for the cheapest brand. A broken bone is very expensive and will ruin the skating experience.
There is something else to consider. During the pandemic, many indoor skating rinks are limited to the number of admissions they can allow in their building. You can help by purchasing your skates locally from your roller rink. Together, we will skate through this.
Thank you for supporting rink owners and skate manufacturers.