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The Best Place to Buy Your Roller Skates

Many times when I’m at a rink, I meet people ready to buy a pair of rollerskates. Some are venturing into the sport for the first time, others are returning, and some are accomplished champions. They all have their own opinions where to make skate purchases, and here’s my take. Buy them from the rink you skate at most often. And avoid the big box stores and the Internet like the plague. Here’s why.

Walmart skates are not high quality and you won’t have a good experience on them. They’re not as safe as rink skates, and some of these don’t have “cushions” that allow the skate to steer properly. Plus you can’t get parts to fix them when they break down.

Internet skates are a whole ‘nother story. While you might find skates that look good at a great price, shipping can be very pricey, and what happens if they don’t fit right? Plus, how do you know if it’s the right skate for the type of skating you do? I learned this the hard way. While I did purchase a pair of skates from a rink 3 decades ago, I wanted the same type my sister was using. The problem was that she was a dance skater, and I’m a freestyle skater. Those Snyder Imperials, while a quality pair of skates, were top of the line, but they didn’t work as well as the Snyder Advantage I replaced them with years later. The angle of the hanger was not designed for my type of skating.

Also, when you buy your skates from a rink, you’re supporting the place that provides you an outlet for your favorite activity. I still hear from advanced skaters who buy online because they’re saving a few bucks. Then they whine when the rink won’t service them, or worse, the rink closes because they’re not making enough to keep the place running.

Rink ownership is costly! Most have loans to pay back for the initial purchase or major renovations. Then there’s labor, taxes, insurance, and a whopping utility bill. Add on some capital expenses like a new HVAC or sewer line and watch the expenses add up. When you buy skates from a rink, you’re letting the rink operator know you appreciate them. And you’re helping to pay their bills to keep the place open.

When you buy skates from a qualified skate tech, they should be asking you the following questions.

1. What type of skating do you do? (Artistic, recreational, speed, jam, derby, and hockey come to mind.)
2. Where do you plan to skate? (indoors at a rink or outside on a bikepath?)
3. How often do you plan to skate?
4. Are your feet done growing?
5. Do you prefer inlines or quad skates?
6. What’s your budget?

Additionally the skate tech, or pro should analyze how you skate. Do you need a little help leaning forward? Then a boot with a heel will be helpful. Do you lean forward too much? Then a lower heel is in order. And there should be some measuring done between the ball of the foot and the heel to determine where the wheels should sit, based on the type of skating. As you can see, picking a pair of skates out of a catalog or off the shelf at Dick’s Sporting Goods may not be in your best interest. Skating is only dangerous when you’re a nervous Nelly on a crappy pair of skates. Investing in a quality pair of skates will improve your confidence and ability.

When you’re in the market for a pair of skates, buy them from a roller rink. It’s in our best interest to keep rinks profitable and open for business. Because you can’t skate at Walmart, or on the Internet.

Susan Geary
Susan is a roller rink consultant with experience gained as the former Editor of Rinksider Magazine. She's been a recreational indoor quad skater for 30+ years.


  1. does anyone kno the correct way to adjust cushions? They control the reactivity of a skate to turning. I’ve heard that the rears should be tighter than the front.

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