Buying local: not just for produce
We are in the midst of an economic quagmire that shows little sign of improving, which leaves many looking to cut corners and seek out bargains. But not every bargain is all it is cracked up to be. In February of 2012, I published a post entitled “Where to buy inline skates in the Twin Cities.” In December, when it came time for me to replace my inline speed boots I started by visiting a couple of establishments on that list. I then compared their prices to identical products for sale on various online warehouse sites. Finding the desired boot on-sale, for 20% off, at an online warehouse I disregarded my own post and purchased online. Due to the websites sale price, free shipping, and lack of state sales tax, my cost was over $100 less than if I had purchased locally. In the words of Jeff Passolt: sounds good so far, but hang on.
Shortly after making the purchase I was informed the boot was back-ordered and would arrive at the warehouse in 31 days; that wasn’t good news, but the calendar said December, which meant the next marathon was a long ways off. A few weeks later I was advised the order would be delayed an additional week, and would arrive in early February; again, that wasn’t good news, but would still give me a month to get ready for the Metrodome Inline Marathon.
February came and so did the skates. I took my old boots off the frames and excitedly readied the bolts. When I put the frame to the boot I instantly knew that I was not going to be skating on those boots anytime soon. The boots I had received had 195 mm PF spacing, my frame, and the boots I actually ordered, had 165 mm spacing, so the mounting holes on the frame and the mounting holes on the boot did not line up. Seven weeks after placing my order I was now holding a boot that would not fit my frame. Do you think I took much solace in telling myself: “Well, you did save over $100″ ?
The next day a conversation with the websites warehouse department elucidated that the warehouse had in fact sent me the wrong boot. They blamed their “buyer” in China for sending them the wrong product, but had little response as to why they didn’t figure that out before mailing the boot to me. They were appropriately apologetic and wanted to send me the boot I had actually ordered. The problem, however, was the boot I had originally ordered was also back-ordered, due to the Chinese New Year, and would take another month (or more) to be produced in China and shipped here.
I ended up having to keep the boot I hadn’t ordered and borrow a two-point frame from a teammate. But one of the reasons for purchasing a three point boot is to have three mounting point – so you won’t end up on your teeth if a frame bolt comes out. So the search began for a three point frame that would actually fit the 195 PF boot. The next problem I encountered was that there are only two frames produced that fit the 3PF mounting set up, one of which costs more than I paid for my boot and both weight nearly twice what my magnesium frame weighs!
Had I purchased locally:
- I would have had my boots 7 weeks earlier.
- I would have walked out of the skate shop with my boots and known they would fit.
- I would have had those weeks to get used to the new boot and mold it properly.
- I would have supported a local business that contributes and supports the local inline skating community.
- I would still be able to use my ultralight three point magnesium frame, which doesn’t fit the 3PF mounting.
Had I gone to see Adam, Ted, Abo, or Randy, I may have paid a little more upfront, but would have saved myself a lot of hassle and future expense. Learn from my mistake.
Where can I buy Rollerblades in the Twin Cities? Where can I buy inline skates in the Twin Cities?
An internet search of where to buy skates in the Twin Cities produced the following search hit:
Where can I buy fresh octopus in the twin cities? – Replyz
It seems new skaters in the Twin Cities could use a bit more guidance on how to get started.
The following is an alphabetical attempt to list and briefly describe the metro locations at which one can purchase inline skates (aggressive, fitness, recreational, speed). Please let me know if I have neglected to include any locations or if something new needs to be added over time.
- Abo’s Skate Shop www.sk8hard.net has specialized in BONT Custom Skates since 1999. After 12 years in Duluth, Abo’s is now in the NW Twin Cities suburb of Andover and provides unmatched expertise in foot molding for custom skates; skate packages, and components from all top manufacturers. Abo’s expert skate service includes; bearing cleaning, skate fitting-set-up, heat molding, and wheel rotation. Abo’s also has your training and racing “fuel” covered with products from Hammer Nutrition. For additional information or to schedule a free equipment assessment or consultation please Call Rick at 218-260-7670 or email firstname.lastname@example.org Long Boards too!
- Adams Inline sells elite level speed skating equipment. Speed skating boots, as compared to traditional “Rollerblades,” have a significantly lower cut boot (often below the ankle). These skates are design for speed – not comfort or balance and are not recommended for beginners. Adams also carries a large line of elite level wheels, bearings, protective gear, and related skating equipment. Adams Inline has both an online and physical location. The shop is located in Minneapolis and is owned and operated by Adam Bradley. Adams Inline is also active in the inline community as a sponsor of many inline events, and a successful national inline racing and product testing team.
- Dave’s is (quite literally) the sports store of our childhood. It carries all the athletic gear you could possibly desire, but still feels like a small town Mom & Pop shop. With internet sales and brick and mortar locations in Fridley, Blaine, and Stillwater, Dave’s serves much of the metro community with a surprisingly diverse array of athletic equipment, including inline skating, inline hockey, hockey, and figure skating gear. Dave’s offers inline skates made from a traditional hockey boot from top brands like Bauer, CCM, and Mission. In addition, Dave’s retails a wide array of fitness/recreational K2 (yes the same K2 that makes skis), and Rollerblade brand skates for all ages. Dave’s also carries wheels, bearings, brakes, protective gear, and inline hockey gear.
- Located next to REI Bloomington, Hockey Giant is, as the name implies, a giant warehouse of all things hockey – including inline hockey. They feature hockey and recreational style inline skates for all ages and retail Roller Derby Brand (both traditional inline and quad wheel), Reebok, Mission, Bauer, Alkali, Tour, and Easton. See also nearby Westwood Sports for hockey equipment.
- Hoigaards offers fitness/recreational skates (K2 / Rollerblade brands), and kids inline skates as well as supporting protective equipment. Fitness skates are slightly “racier” than recreational skates. They are designed to go faster and be more maneuverable and are a good skate for a beginner who may turn racer. Hoigaards is active in the community and also sponsors a successful local inline skate team.
- Pierce is a winter lovers dream with skate and ski equipment for all types of skiing and skating. Pierce has been named “U.S. Ski Retailer of the Year Award Winner” from 1995-2012 and is recognized as a world wide leader in the sales and service of:
- inline skates (fitness/recreational/speed/elite),
- hockey skates (Bauer, Easton, CCM, all other leading brands),
- figure skates (Riedell boots/ Eclipse blades, SP-Teri boots, Paramount blades U.S.A. and Jackson/Ultima/Gam skates/blades & Tournament Sports Canada, MK and John Wilson Blades (HD Sports) Sheffield, England both in new and used product),
- ice speed skates (Maple Skate (NED), Zandstra Sport (NED), Bont Skates (AUS), Louis Garneau (CAN)), and
- skate skis (Rossignol, and all other top brands).
Pierce retails inline skates & accessories offered from recreational to race/elite from ALL brands currently offered on the world wide market – in stock year around. They do not sell equipment from their website, so you will have to head to Bloomington; where you will find an experienced, well known, and knowledgeable staff that maintains PSA Rated Figure Skate Coach’s, Gold Test Figure Skaters, Inline Master’s racers, and U.S. Speedskating Level 1+ rated coaches. Pierce has been family owned and operated since 1936 (now Bart Pierce – third generation), and played an instrumental role in the history of inline skating (click here for the historic photos and story). Pierce is also an active member of the inline community, and sponsors both inline events and a region inline skating club.
- Pinewski, in Anoka, features aggressive skates (multiple brands), fitness/recreational skates (K2 / Rollerblade), and wheels, bearings, and protective gear.
- With locations throughout the Twin Cities, Play it Again may be an affordable and low risk way to try out used inline skating or “Rollerblading.” Play it Again also carries low-end wheels and some nice highly affordable bearings. Play it Again locations are likely to have only fitness/recreation level skates and variable sizes.
- Rollerbob is the rare retailer that can provide you the opportunity to try before you buy. During the winter Rollerbob is a staple (and sponsor) of the Rollerdome community and has a booth set up on the lower level nearly every night. Rollerbob features Rollerblade brand’s entry level, easy to use, easy to learn products. He is accessible, knowledgeable, and experienced. When he is not at the Rollerdome, his website features wheel and bearing packages.
- The big box style retailer hawks predominately entry level Rollerblade and K2 brand skating gear both in store and online.
- Located just south of Highway 36 in Maplewood (very near the Hadley access point to the Gateway Trail), Strauss offers skating equipment of all types (figure skating, hockey, inline, and quad skating). They feature not only the ubiquitous Rollerblade brand, but also Reidell brand quad skates (Roller Derby style). Additionally, Strauss carries kids’ Rollerblades, including the adjustable variety that can grow with your child. Strauss has been an independently owned, brick and mortar establishment since 1887 – clearly they are doing something right.
Shop owners/operators let me know if you wish to supplement my brief description.
Skaters let me know if I neglected to include your favorite skate shop, and I will update the list.