Before the pandemic, there was often tension in skate parks as skateboarders, roller skaters and inline skaters all competed for space.
“The skateboarders didn’t like the roller skaters going into the skate park, inline skaters didn’t like roller skaters, and roller skaters didn’t like the inline skaters,” says Legacy Skates co-owner Luke Powell.
Those attitudes changed quickly amid the global pandemic, as roller skating had a resurgence that just kept rolling. The sport’s on-trend retro aesthetic has brought skaters from all generations back together. “We’re not just seeing people throw away their skates in their garage,” Powell says. “We’re seeing them go to the rinks, we’re seeing them continue to create content for social media, and we’re seeing the excitement, the love and that passion.”
Legacy, which is a block from Boulevard Brewing in the Westside neighborhood, bills itself as the city’s only roller skate shop. It opened in 2019 and found customers who were looking to be correctly fitted for skates—too many were buying online and only discovering that their skates didn’t fit properly when it was too late. The base of the business is the local roller derby community.
Inside the shop, you’re met with nostalgic bright colors. The atmosphere encompasses an open space to hang out, pick up skates, watch videos and listen to music. “You’ll just see people talking about what they’re going to do at the skatepark, what new routine they’re going to put together at the rink,” says Legacy Skates designer Maranda Davies. “We’re just seeing such a melting pot here.”
However, there’s been a new shift in the business. “We are going back to core skating styles, whether it be roller derby, rhythm skaters, skate park skaters or indoor skaters going to the local rinks,” Powell says.
The company has had the opportunity to buy a roller rink. “You turn into a rink rat,” Powell says. “You’ve got to go every time the rink opens. It’s such a niche community, and once you’re in, you start feeding off of other people’s love for what you’re doing.”
The Kansas City community has vastly different rinks and skateparks. “We want you to come back to relive that nostalgia,” Powell says. “Embrace it and give it to your child or your friend.” Break out those old skates or break in some new ones. Whatever you decide, please skate at your discretion in becoming a rink rat and joining the colony.
Where To Roll: Picks from Luke Powell’ and Maranda Davies, on where to roller skate around KC
Powell: “Honestly, there is not one bad rink within the KC metro. Each one has its own image along with fantastic features for anyone looking to roller skate. I am going to be slightly biased, but Winnwood is the biggest skating center in the metro, with a beginner rink for the littles or adults looking to practice their moves.”
Davies: “I personally grew up skating at what used to be Skateland South and is now Skate City Overland Park, so I have a big soft spot for that location. It actually sparked my love for skating. My elementary school had skate parties for us there and that evolved into my friends and I going every Friday and Saturday night.”
Powell: “The best outdoor skatepark for beginners. This is where every beginner park skater gets their feet wet, as it’s always clean, easily accessible and very accommodating for all skill levels.”