Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
Iowa’s first and only stand-alone roller skate shop, Volition Skate Co., is located in Fairfield Square. Jen Kranz and Kate Vigmostad have always been entrepreneurial by nature and decided to turn a passion into a physical business.
The pair met while roller skating during the pandemic, picking up a passion from when they were younger. At the time, Vigmostad was purchasing and refurbishing roller skates off eBay, then reselling them to the site.
An entire rainbow of colored roller skates awaits customers at the shop, along with a personalized and thorough shopping experience.
“We try to learn a lot about our customer, what their needs are, what their body’s like,” said Volition co-owner, Jen Kranz. “Do they have wide feet, do they have ankle problems, that kind of thing. Also what level skater they are. It’s really a personalized shopping experience trying to find the perfect skate for our customer.”
Before relocating to Fairfield Square, Volition Skate Co. was in a former dance studio, size being one of the main factors forcing them out.
“It was just one room, one very small dance studio,” said Kranz. “That was the room that we stored our inventory in, it was also our photography studio, where we shot pictures of ourselves and our friends in skates and then product photos. And then it was also a retail store. It was too many things in one.”
The Fairfield Square location allows Volition room to expand, even potentially providing a roller rink to the area in the future. An old ballroom resides above Volition, vacant. Hosting ‘’skate and hangs,’’ birthday parties and roller skating classes are all ideas that have yet to come to fruition if they gain access to and transform the space.
Making connections and creating community within roller skating is important to both Kranz and Vigmostad.
“I think that what’s really cool with the product that we sell, along with it being a physical product, there’s also something really fun that you get to do with it, which is this social aspect,” said Vigmostad. “As an adult I find it hard to make friends and find community, so roller skating is definitely something that provided a lot of pieces of my life that I really wanted to build up more.”
Another factor aside from community that the duo felt important to incorporate was being a “green retail” shop, meaning their products are as eco-friendly as possible.
With a degree in conscious entrepreneurship from Maharishi International University, Kranz understands the importance of sustainable consumerism.
“We just try to be as green and eco-friendly as possible and conscious about our products and the things that we’re using and the things that we’re selling,” Kranz said. The two refurbished countertop and shelf spaces that already existed in their new space and used Zero-VOC paint on the walls, to prevent off-gassing and are safer to use indoors.
While roller skate inventory is selective, especially during the pandemic, Kranz and Vigmostad do their best to source skates made in America.
While stand-alone roller skate shops are not as common as skateboard or other sports activity retail stores, Volition has been experiencing increases in consumers, whether it be online, in-store or those from out-of-state.
Minnesota, Illinois and Nebraska are the most common out-of-towners that visit, proving that roller skate consumers are willing to travel for a quality pair of roller skates.
“I think having a stand-alone roller skate shop is somewhat of a new concept, so there really aren’t that many in the whole United States, there’s only a handful,” Vigmostad said. “It’s a newer market, it’s really exciting. It feels like we’re on the forefront of something that could really explode and become huge. I think it’s a really, really exciting time in the roller skating industry right now.”
Kranz emphasized the difference between buying roller skates in a retail setting versus buying them at the roller rink, where inventory and selection could be slim.
“Before stand-alone roller skate shops became a thing, your only option for purchasing them was inside the roller rinks, which are very small,” Kranz said. “Roller skate shops are definitely a new thing, people aren’t relying on the rink anymore to buy. They also aren’t relying on the rink to skate, because there’s so many new ways to skate.”
Outdoor activities such as roller skating saw an uptick over the course of the pandemic, with individuals wanting to get out of the house in a safe, socially-distanced manner. With roller skating, they are able to be active while remaining safe and finding a new favorite activity. Or rediscover a passion from their childhood.
“I knew we were going to do well, but I didn’t expect us to do so well so fast,” Kranz said. “We accomplished so much in such a short period of time. It’s been wild.”