December 14, 2021
“I grew up in an era where there was no internet and the game consoles stopped at Atari. So for fun, we’d go roller skating. I have a lot of fond childhood memories associated with Happy Wheels and just roller skating in general.
I put on my first pair of skates at Happy Wheels when I was 3 years old and worked for almost 23 years at the previous rink. So when it closed in 2019, I inquired about the potential of owning the business. Soon after, I purchased the assets and began working with a developer to build our new location in Westbrook.
I saw a lot of room for improvement and a space that hosted much needed togetherness. Roller Skating really is a family event. It’s a place to meet new and old friends and learn new skills, and people from all walks of life like to skate.
I think that’s what makes this kind of business so unique. It’s the social aspect, the skill aspect, and the fact that it’s a place where complete strangers can form a bond while doing what they love.
When we were open, we would see a lot of customers come in on a regular basis, not just once. Skating gives people a safe and cheap way to have fun, either on their own, with their loved ones, or with total strangers that may one day become their best friends.
Community, to me, isn’t tied to a specific address or location. It’s about being a good neighbor, helping others and being there for them long-term. We’ve been around so long, there are generations of skaters who remember us from the 50’s and 60’s.
We're happy to be able to continue on the legacy of Happy Wheels and provide a space for people to meet. It is the people, truly, that make this place so great and this effort so worth it. You’d be surprised how many people would come here from hours and hours away just to skate and drive home later that day.
We were surprised to win the Heartbeat of Our Community award, because we haven’t been open for almost 2 years. But it’s for this reason, and many others, that we know we’re doing the right thing by bringing it back. Truthfully, it was a scary operation to take on and it takes a lot of money to open one of these things. But I can see and hear the community support, and that just warms my heart.
We don’t quite have a date nailed down yet for when we will open our doors, but hopefully we will do so at some point in 2022, after the first of the year. I was initially worried about how the pandemic would affect the future of this business, but honestly, it’s done wonders for the industry as a whole.
Most locations were forced to shut down amid the pandemic, but now that they’re beginning to reopen, the industry is seeing a boom bigger than it saw in the era of disco. The business is so busy that manufacturers can’t even keep their skates in stock or make them quick enough.
It’s a heck of a problem to have, but we’re happy to have it. It was just a strange twist in things that none of us saw coming. Hopefully this high rate of interest in roller skating is here to stay.” - Derek Fitzgerald
Congratulations to Happy Wheels on being selected as one of the winners of the Heartbeat of Our Community Award!