The New York City Inline Skating Guide
Unfortunately, a lot of skate shops in the city started closing about 1999, when the inline boom faded and then as the economy got tough. There are still some good stores in town, but less than as half as many as there used to be. The following includes a few comments about some closed stores, in case you're wondering what happened to them.
It's probable that some of the descriptions here are not up to date, and possible that a shop or two isn't open anymore. Your comments and updates would be appreciated.
The price of skating equipment in the city is generally decent. In fact, even though New York has a reputation as a high-priced town, the majority of skate shops usually seem to charge less than the so-called Suggested Retail Price (SRP). On the other hand, while the price of replaceable parts varies quite a bit around town, mail-order is often less expensive for such items. You can often obtain wheels and bearings for 25-30% below SRP that route.
If you're embarking on your first skate purchase, you may want to visit a few different stores, not only to sample different models and brands to see what skates fit you most comfortably, but also to find sales staff that has a clue about the product. This probably means going to a "real" skate shop rather than a chain sporting goods store. I also suggest that you read the rec.sport.skating.inline newsgroup's FAQ section entitled "Guide to Buying Skates". It's ancient, but the advice there remains valid. You may also want to note that those stores offering skate rentals may also offer deals whereby the rental entitles you to a $10-$15 discount if you later buy a pair of skates from them.
For those wondering when the best skate sales seem to happen, it is a nebulous period stretching from August through February. If spring and early summer were rainy, the sales might start in early July. The large sporting goods stores usually start discounting first so that they can clear some space for fall and winter sports gear. The small skate shops will follow a month or two later when they want to make room for snowboards. Finally, come November through February, almost everyone is trying to eliminate stock before the new model year of skates begins to arrive. Discounts are steeper the deeper you get into this time frame, but selection also declines and if you wait too long, you could have trouble finding the model you want in your size. During the spring and early summer, discounts are usually only found on discontinued models.
Several skate shops offer discounts to members of the Empire Skate Club. Also, many of them will match the "everyday" price offered at other local stores, aka "price protection". This means that if you buy something from them and then spot it for less at another store, you can get a rebate for the difference. Look for signs announcing the policy or else ask a sales clerk, and don't throw away your receipt.
Blades Board & Skate
As skate shops go, this was pretty much the Manhattan chain from 1993 to 2003, especially after they bought out NYC Skate in the mid '90s and several independent shops closed in 1999-2000. They were even spawning off new stores outside the state. But even the once mighty Blades has faded and they're down to just two shops in Manhattan after having had nine back in 2000.
In October and through mid-winter, the stores turn heavily to snowboard sales and you may have to wind your way through ski garb to find the skates. They also cater more to skateboarders than they did a decade ago, and more floor space is given over to aggro/boarder clothing.
659 Broadway at Bond St.; 212-477-7350
156 West 72nd St. btw Columbus Ave. and Broadway; 212-787-3911
(Note address change: Blades West has moved about a half block west of their long-time location.)
Even during Blades' peak in the late 1990s, this seemed to be the chain's mothership due to its ultra-convenient location near Central Park. This store is a prime site for inline rentals, being located only a block and a half from the West 72nd St. entrance to Central Park (and the summer weekend Skate Patrol stopping clinic). This also means the store can turn into a major zoo on sunny, warm weekend afternoons. The most negative comments about the store have usually involved trying to buy skates on a summer weekend. They're a lot more helpful and attentive on weekdays.
390 Fifth Ave at 36th St.; 212-695-0171
(Note address change: They have moved from the long-time location at the Citigroup Center.)
A branch of the Boston-based sporting goods chain. Lots of sports apparel and other goods with just a small selection of skates. At last report offered a 10% discount to Empire Skate Club members.
280 Broadway; 212-962-6200
243 West 42nd St.; 212-575-8111
901 Sixth Ave.; 212-594-1830
The big sporting goods chain. In the past, some of their stores were known for having a decent selection of skates, but these days you may have trouble finding much more than (roller)hockey gear.
Paragon Sporting Goods
867 Broadway at 18th St.; 212-255-8036
Giant sporting goods store with an okay inline skate selection, at decent prices. Accessory and spare parts selection seems relatively sizable. However, service has been lackluster the last few times I visited. Sales staff seem to spend more time checking stock in the store room than interacting with customers.
Paragon is usually just about the first skate merchant in the city to start end-of-summer sales (in order to make room for skis and other winter gear), so prices usually start dropping in mid-August.
Peck & Goodie
No longer exists. A small store that used to be on Eighth Ave between 54th and 55th Sts., Peck had been a New York institution since 1940 (but part of the Blades chain since 1993) before closing in late 2003. The shop long had a reputation as a "skaters' store" and is dearly missed.
The Sports Authority
636 Sixth Ave at 19th St.; 212-929-8971
845 Third Ave at 51st St.; 212-355-9725
57 West 57th St. at Sixth Ave.; 212-355-6430
Selection tends to run from really cheap crud up to mid-line models, plus maybe a few top-of-the-line fitness and roller hockey skates. Prices on what they do have generally look pretty good.
Toys "R" Us
In the late 1990s, the chain carried a fair amount of cheap inline skates for kids. The website indicates they do still carry such gear, but don't expect that any particular local store still does.
Westside has been involved in ice hockey and figure skating since 2004, selling gear and performing sharpening services and repairs. In spring 2006, they opened a shop on Fifth Ave., overlooking Madison Square Park, and were expanding the inline portion of their business.
Note that they have two websites; one is for ice gear and the other for inline and quad roller.
Wonderland on Ice
Pier 61, Chelsea Piers, 22nd St at West Side Hwy; 212-824-4096
Opened in early 2004, replacing the Blades shop at the Sky Rink at Chelsea Piers. Primarily an ice skating shop but they were reported to also carry some rollerhockey gear.
1412 Kings Hwy., Gravesend; 718-376-3885 —
2436 McDonald Ave., Bensonhurst; 718-376-3885
Five Stride Skate Shop
455 Graham Ave. (by the BQE), East Williamsburg; 347-529-6787
Specialists in quad roller and especially roller derby gear.
111 Brighton Beach Rd.; 718-996-5642
Harvey's Sporting Goods
3179 Emmons Ave.; 718-743-0054
2505 65th St.; 718-339-5221
Mr. C's Cycle
4622 Seventh Ave., Park Slope; 718-438-7283
Panda Ski & Sport
9213 Fifth Ave., Bay Ridge; 718-238-4919
Emilio's Ski Shop
112-32 Queens Blvd., Forest Hills; 718-544-0404
Myrtle Sporting Goods
57-16 Myrtle Ave., Ridgewood; 718-497-3164
The Sports Authority
73-25 Woodhaven Blvd, Ridgewood; 718-896-3826 —
51-30 Northern Blvd. (near Tower Square Mall), Woodside; 718-205-4075
156-40 Cross Bay Blvd., Howard Beach; 718-845-1800
City Ice Pavilion, 47-32 32nd Place, 2nd Floor, Long Island City; 718-505-6230
2929 Third Ave. at 86th St., 718-993-1844
Down Under Sports
88 Guyon Ave.; 718-980-7547
ET Cycle Center
75 S. Riverside Ave., Croton-on-Hudson; 914-271-6661
38 Milburn St., Bronxville; 914-771-7100
Specialists in quad roller and especially roller derby gear. Repairs available on site. Located block or two west of the Bronxville Metro-North station. Call ahead as they are sometimes closed to roller derby events and other responsibilites.
Peck's Skate & Sport
31 Lake St., White Plains; 914-949-0579
Pedigree Ski Shop
355 Mamaroneck Ave., White Plains; 914-948-2995
The Sports Authority
Westchester Pavillion South, 60 South Broadway, White Plains; 914-993-0212 —
The Mall at Cross County, 750 Central Park Ave, Yonkers; 914-963-3733
Brands Cycle & Fitness
1966 Wantagh Ave., Wantagh; 516-781-6100
Jesse Halpern Skate and Tennis
99 Cuttermill Road at Chelsea Place, Great Neck; 516-487-6978
Hockey Shop / Valley Stream Bicycle
95 E. Merrick Road, Valley Stream; 516-568-0136
Caters to (roller)hockey players but also advertises recreational inline gear.
Oil City Skate Park
3565 Maple Court, Oceanside; 516.594.1888
Skatepark with pro shop. However, looks like they're chiefly selling skateboard gear, so inliners won't find much of interest except for helmets and pads.
Princeton Ski Shop
250 S. Service Rd., Roslyn; 516-626-6000
Ski Stop Warehouse
197 S. Service Road, Plainview; 516-249-7980
The Sports Authority
5234 Sunrise Hwy, Sunrise Promenade, Massapequa Park; 516-797-0112
Wheelen Willys Skate Shop
3049 Merrick Road, Wantagh; 516-785-4301