By Genie Davis
With so many wheels rolling across the carpet at roller skating centers, choosing the correct kind and color of carpet for floors and walls, as well as establishing sound maintenance techniques, are both important to keep skaters and operators happy.
At Roller King Skating & Blading in Roseville, Calif., Manager and Owner David Jacques said, “Choosing a darker, patterned carpet is important, one that won’t show soda spills. With people on wheels carrying drinks, there’s always going to be a spill of some kind.” Jacques noted, “We like wall coverings, because they’re softer if people run into the walls, and they help with the acoustics as well. We use the same carpet on the walls as on the ground. When choosing a carpet, it’s a good idea to select one that works well both on walls and floors.” And maintenance? “As far as cleaning, we tend to avoid using any kind of soaps or cleaning products in the machines we use. Carpet companies tell us soaps leave a residue that creates more dirt. So we use clean water in the machines. Once or twice a year we have a company come in to do truck-mounted, professional cleaning. But most of the time we use our own machines, and using plain water rather than soap when you clean is the best advice I can offer.” Jacques does occasionally use soap on a specific spot or stain, but never with broad cleaning. Another tip Jacques offers is to be observant. “We just keep an eye on things all the time to make sure there aren’t any problems. That way if there’s any issue, such as a part of the carpet that’s worn or peeling, we can address it right away.” Roller King Skating & Blading has seen an upsurge in guests this year. “We’ve been trending up from 77,332 in 2012; we add more guests yearly. I think it’s due to a renewed interest in roller skating right now. Interest comes in waves over the years. Right now, with a resurgence of interest in roller derby events as a sport, there’s more exposure to the idea of roller skating. Attendance was low in the late 1990s through early 2000s, but it’s been picking up steadily since 2008.”
In Houston, Texas, at the Bear Creek Roller Rink, Manager Ryan Wanzong offered these carpeting tips. “Look for something that will work well with black lights, because that’s a part of today’s roller skating experience. So pick a bright color for your carpet pattern, something cheerful, with a dark background to hide dirt and stains. Neon patterns are a great idea.” He uses the carpeting for both floors and walls. In terms of maintenance, Wanzong said, “We have all our own professional equipment, we shampoo but we don’t steam clean. We try to clean everything once every two months or so, and we focus on catching spills as they happen. It’s important to stay on top of cleaning things right away, so you can increase the longevity of your carpet.” Wanzong hosts between 40,000 and 50,000 guests annually. “I’d say the figure fluctuates yearly, it’s probably down a little this year. It really depends on the local economy, and what kids are into at the moment.”
At Gresham Skate World Inc., in Gresham, Ore., Assistant Manager Josh Bird also recommended carpeting with a dark background and bright pattern, with one caveat. “Just make sure you have adequate lighting, so that it doesn’t look too dark inside.” Bird presently covers his floors with “carpeting that comes in squares, so if you have a problem and you need to replace a spot, you can just pull one square up and put another down rather than having to replacing an entire section of carpet.” As to wall coverings, Bird noted, “Our walls had carpet on them for about 40 years. But we’ve removed it to make things brighter and create a feeling of openness in the building. So instead of a dark red carpet, we have bright blue and green painted areas.” As far as maintenance goes, Bird uses water only for his overall carpet cleaning, utilizing a standard carpet cleaning machine. “If you use soap in your machine, it tends to get the carpet dirtier more quickly.” But Bird doesn’t use just cold water when cleaning. “If there’s a hard spot, say where an ICEE or soda spilled, we will take hot water from the coffee pot, and pour it on the spot before using the machine. This technique works really well with anything that’s sugary or syrupy.”
Gresham Skate World sees between 80,000 to 90,000 guests yearly. “Some years we’ll exceed that, but this year has been a little bit slower for us. We really see a seven-year cycle, due to the age groups in the area. It’s a middle school age population that attends most frequently.”
Tucson, Ariz., is home to Skate Country East, where Manager Marlene Leer offered her tips for carpet selection and maintenance. “It’s important to choose a standard commercial carpet, one that’s sturdy, such as a 30-ounce carpet, which is what we use. In regard to maintenance, we use our own carpet cleaning machine, and we have a professional cleaning service every few months.” Leer noted that she also does spot cleaning regularly. “In particular, we look for any gum; it’s easier to clean it up when it’s fresh. Prevention is also important where gum is concerned. We look out for that and try to stop people from using gum in the center, because it’s so hard to get out of the carpet.” Leer’s guest rate is holding steady at over 104,000 annually.
In San Antonio, Texas, Verna Quaranto, manager and co-owner of The Rollercade, cited the importance of choosing carpeting with neon, fluorescent colors. “If you use black lights, as we do, having those bright colors is very important to make the carpet stand out. Ours is a kind of abstract design, with neon pink, yellow, purple, green and orange on a black background,” she explained. As far as cleaning goes, Quaranto said, “We shampoo once a week. We use a mild detergent, and it works very well for us.” Her business is consistent, year to year, hosting “over 50,000 yearly guests.”
Nationwide, choosing the right carpet and the right cleaning techniques means roller skating centers have smooth rolling ahead.