There are dozens of roller skating rinks all around the nation. Some of which have been in business for days, months, or years. For one rink in Cookeville, Tennessee (reasonably named The Sk8,) they’ve been in business for five years. The Sk8 is considered ‘home’ for many young families and speed skaters as well as Jamskaters. The Sk8 is a very well-known rink as it has hosted multiple Vanilla SummerJam over the course of its years.
The Sk8 first opened in August of 2009 when the previous boss of Harrison Christensen (current owner of The Sk8) informed him that there was a skating rink about to be put up for sale. Harrison had worked at a laser tag company with his previous boss for three years until he left his management position at the laser tag job to work with his father at the Wood Mill. Soon the laser tag business relocated to the local skating rink, but that didn’t last long. While Harrison was on a management hiatus, he realized how much he loved being in the entertaining and fun center environment. The boss notified Harrison that the rink would be up for lease in July of 2009. “We ended up having some family discussions and made the moves to take over the lease. We had no brand, plan, or any of the legalities even drawn up and were set to open in 1 month. It was a fast month but with the help of my family, friends, and God we were able to get everything in order to open on time,” says Harrison.
There are many famous roller skating rinks out there, but they all need to find a way to get to the top. For Mr. Christensen the skate got its title from the few Vanilla SummerJam events. Harrison says: “SummerJam literally put us on the map nationwide. We were only a year into business when we were approached on hosting the event. Before SummerJam we were a no name skating rink, but, our community saw a great turnout as well. I believe the first SummerJam event had over three hundred out of state skaters show up. Our locals were able to see and be a part of something big. Of course you see the skaters on TV and they come and visit the rink but nothing compares the energy that weekend brings, you have the best skaters from the US in one spot, you just don’t want it to end. “
Keeping a skating rink in order isn’t easy, but you can bet that it’s worth it. “I hope that I can give a place for families to make memories. In today’s time there are so many distractions that take away from family time or even a social life with friends,” Harrison says. Harrison works a total of sixty to one hundred hours a week just to make sure that everything is running smoothly. Owning a roller skating rink has so many factors: money, customers, budgets, etc. The days are often packed with emails, party bookings, and the constant social media postings of the new and upcoming promotions. Harrison spends almost every day of the week making sure his staff are aware of possible company changes and events. By the end of the day Harrison is drained of all energy, but must be prepared for the cycle to start again the next day.
The plans for The Sk8 vary, but for right now Harrison just wants to provide an outlet for kids to go and just let go of all the stress. The Sk8 should be a place where kids are anxious to go to each weekend. Kids need a place to go to just have fun or make that get away and with the right music, setting, and people that can easily be provided. Harrison will continue to try and keep The Sk8 up and going for as long as he can possibly manage; and when the time comes for retirement, there will be some very certain guidelines for the new owner. “When that day comes I’m sure it will meant to be. I wouldn’t feel right handing it off to someone without the same type of vision I have. Your brand becomes part of you and that will take a special person to carry that on,” says Harrison.