The family-owned roller skating club Retro Rollers started their business off on the right foot earlier this month with their opening night at Wellesley Arena.
“We had two factors against us, one was weather,” said Elaine Beck, one of the owners of Retro Rollers, of the June 8 debut. “It was amazing weather last Friday night. And we really only had one week of advertising. So I was pleasantly surprised that we had as many people come out as we did. I thought we’d have more kids. It was mostly adults.”
Residents of the town enjoyed the event themselves at the event.
“I dropped in to check in on my 11-year-old son around 7:30, then picked him up at 10,” said Laura Cook, a Wellesley resident. “He had a blast, some good, safe, local fun for him and a bunch of his friends. It was beginning to become difficult for us to find things for our kids to do living in our very small community; there are limited options. So this is a great opportunity for them to be together, locally, doing something fun and active.”
Elaine Beck and Phillip Morris found the inspiration for the idea of the business at their son Carson’s birthday party. They attended Scooter’s Roller Palace, a roller skating rink in Mississauga.
“We’ve always been looking for a business to run for ourselves,” explained Morris. “We went in there and started skating around and looked at each other and said ‘this is it.’”
One of the visions for Retro Rollers is to bring families closer together in an activity that bonds every member, without the distraction of technology.
“That’s what we’re aiming to do,” said Morris. “Is to get kids off their phones and their tablets and their video games and get them out, get them active in something fun and social.”
The couple also stressed the importance of staying physically active to maintain health, and that roller skating is a fun way to achieve that.
“It’s very low-impact, but high results,” said Beck. “We love that because we met each other from running. We were runners, originally. We discovered that this was an excellent exercise for us to maintain our physical fitness.”
“When we were doing long distances, our knees would hurt. You’d run for two to three hours, and your knees would be killing you,” added Morris. “With this, we can skate for three hours, and it still aches, but it’s not nearly the same kind of aches and pains as running. You’re not burning as much as you are when you’re running, but they say roller skating burns about two-thirds of the calories as running.”
With June 8 being their first opening night, the owners welcome feedback on their social media sites in order to improve future roller sessions. Their first two adjustments have already been put in place.
“Obviously, with Friday being our first night, we know where we need to make some adjustments, and we have,” said Beck. “We’re adding more lights. We just got them today.
Prices for a night out of roller skating reflect the costs, she noted.
“We want to be able to have families out; obviously that’s one of our core values,” said Beck. “However we are not subsidized; we are paying full price for the facility. We’re having to make back what we’re paying for the facility in rental fees. So we have to be able to be careful and cautious, and we’re businesspeople in that sense.”
Another way they are looking to improve is choosing the perfect playlist, which can be difficult to predict.
“And just working in on zeroing in on excellent songs,” added Beck. “What kind of music we play depends on the crowd. If the crowd is majority adults, we’re going to gear the music towards the old school funk and disco. We want people to play on those memories and enjoy the moment; be in the moment. Not worry about things going on in their lives, that’s what we felt when we were roller skating, and we just really wanted to share that.”
Future plans for growing the business even further include creating a roller derby team. Roller derby is a contact sport that will add an extra competitive edge to roller skating.
Rollerblades are also permitted. Their next roller skating event is scheduled for June 22 from 7-10 p.m. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit www.retrorollers.ca.