Skating Craze Continues – Roller skate shops continue to sell, RGV residents take part in a hobby
RIO GRANDE VALLEY, Texas (KVEO) – Major brands of roller skates are still struggling to keep up with demand after interest in roller skating increased last March and continued for the rest of the l ‘year. An event caused by the correlation of COVID-19 restrictions and internet trends.
Meanwhile, the residents of the Rio Grande Valley who managed to get their hands on a pair for the first time, as well as seasoned skaters, are thankful that roller skating provided them with a safe pastime during the pandemic.
Before the pandemic, roller skating was an activity preserved by niche communities, such as culturally black community rinks and urban roller derby leagues.
Now, after nearly a year of changed standards due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the activity has attracted thousands of new skaters who have been won over by its aesthetic appeal and endorphin-boosting effect.
Much like bicycles, roller skates saw an explosion in sales as restrictions on indoor activities became part of efforts to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. However, while the bikes were able to get back into stock fairly quickly, roller skates are still hard to come by.
There are a few reasons for the shortage and they all seem to come back to the virus.
When many people found themselves losing their livelihoods and asked to take refuge in their homes, videos of seemingly carefree women slipping through the streets of the neighborhood went viral on TikTok.
With thousands of people wanting to go from the viewer to the creator of such videos, roller skates have taken flight from virtual and brick and mortar shelves.
Christina “Fritz” Stang, owner of Fritzy’s Skate Shop, Skateworld San Diego, and Skateworld Takoma, recalls thinking her grand opening in March would be the start and end of her store, as the pandemic quickly rocked businesses.
However, his familiarity with the roller skating industry helped Stang make early decisions that continue to lead his store through the craze.
âAfter I had completely sold all of my inventory in April, I realized it was getting huge, so I ended up placing orders for thousands and thousands of skates,â Stang said. “So I ended up getting really lucky, and that kind of catapulted our business to, I would say, to the forefront of roller skate stores, because I was able to have inventory when a lot of people didn’t have it. ”
Stang says selling only the inventory she had made a difference to her shop, especially in August when few had anything available.
Unlike many other out-of-stock skate stores, she says she never took pre-orders for roller skates. Those who have let customers wait several months for their skates to arrive, some are still waiting for skates for which they placed orders as early as June.
Disruptions in the supply chain have made production difficult for roller skate manufacturers. COVID-19 has closed factories that made various parts of roller skates, ultimately delaying assembly and shipping.
Keen to get started, Brownsville resident Andrea Morales says she bought her first pair of skates on eBay in August to bypass out-of-stock stores and recently bought her second pair from a skate store with a limited quantity.
“I didn’t think I was going to like [rollers skating] as much as I did to be honest, âMorales said. “I was like ‘oh whatever, it’ll probably be like a fad, it’s gonna die out and then I’ll get over it, but no. I just wanna learn how to do all the cool stuff already.
Morales says she watches social media skating tutorials to improve her skate park skills after realizing that making roller skating look effortless takes work.
âMy goal of skating started out as jam skating, because of the video like I want to dance skating, and then once you try to do it without any footwork experience or fancy stuff, it’s a lot more difficult. So I guess my skating goal changed from jam skating to park skating, âsaid Morales.
Part of the appeal to her is the community. She says she met the friends she skates with while she skates alone in skateparks.
While the skating community may be new to Morales in the Rio Grande Valley, roller derby has been introducing women to roller skating since 2006.
The full contact sport on roller skates has its roots in the televised raised track roller derby marathons that began in the 1940s.
McAllen resident Esmer Castillo introduced her to skating in 2011 with the MacTown RebelRollers, a recreational roller derby team on the flat track.
Before joining the league, Castillo says the only skating experience she had was with inline skates, but she was addicted to roller skating after the first practice she attended.
âIt’s a challenge, for sure, but for me it’s always been part of the fun. I like to push myself, I like to get out of my comfort zone, âsaid Castillo.
Castillo has been heavily involved in the community and was a key member in the creation of the RGV Bandidas, a new league created through a merger between the MacTown RebelRollers and their predecessor, the South Texas Rolleristas, in 2015.
She hopes the explosion in roller skating popularity will attract people interested in using their newly learned skills in her league once they are able to come together again.
âDue to the pandemic, we just had to do like everyone else, which was socially responsible and take time out for now. We don’t have training, but we skate alone, said Castillo.
For now, Castillo is roller skating on McAllen trails and is also learning to skateboard.
The roller skates on Stang’s website continue to sell within minutes of their release, but she’s unsure if most will stick with the new hobby.
“I don’t think it’s that popular once COVID wears off just because people want their lives back and roller skating anywhere just isn’t the number one priority,” said Stang. “But I think what a lot of people have discovered with roller skating is that when you put on roller skates and find that comfy curse speed and the wind in your hair, or whatever it is. , disco lights, whatever makes you comfortable, there’s hardly anything that matches that.