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New skating business just rolling along

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Skating enthusiasts in Bermuda can now gear up on island.

Mint Systems Skate Shop has opened in the Clocktower Mall at Royal Naval Dockyard, offering a full line of roller skates, in-line skates, and accessories.

Owner Keola Thompson opened the store last month and has plans for a “grand opening” celebration next month.

Ms Thompson has operated a “really, really small” pop-up shop “on and off” since 2015 after becoming keen on participating in the island’s nascent roller derby community.

“I had no roller skates, I only had roller blades (in-line skates), and so I went to North America to buy roller skates because you want to try them on,” she said.

Air fare, hotel, a taxi from Manhattan to a skate shop in Brooklyn, plus the skates and gear, was an expensive proposition.

Ms Thompson said: “Skating was definitely picking up, and I thought Bermuda could use something like this. I thought ‘why cater to just roller derby people’ because that is such a limited market.

“How could I encourage the community in this roller skating thing? How could I open it up for young people to have an outlet to skate as well?”

The pop-up shop sold roller skates and safety gear, mainly as Christmas gifts for children.

Ms Thompson said that roller skating videos on TikTok during the Covid-19 pandemic had stimulated interest in roller skating on the island and “opened up the roller skating world”.

She added: “People here see that and think ‘I can do this’.”

Ms Thompson built a website about a year ago.

“I never really thought about a retail location because it’s not something people do every day, but I got an opportunity up at Dockyard to bring some life and light up there.

“Dockyard has always been a location I wanted to skate. I had to break down the fear of doing something new. I reached out to Wedco and rented a space.”

Ms Thompson said she was “taking it light – I never wanted to overinvest in the company because interest comes and goes”.

She decided to “make a space and keep it bubbly. I want to have some longevity.”

Ms Thompson added: “People have been saying ‘Bermuda needs this’, encouraging words. I didn’t want to do it just for today; I want to do it for the long term, an outlet.”

She added that the shop stocked roller skates, in-line skates, socks, skate bags, knee and elbow pads, wheels, tools, and “trinkets, quirky items”.

Mint Systems has an L-shaped outdoor space next to Clocktower Mall so that enthusiasts can come by for a skate.

Skates are available for rental or purchase from toddler’s size seven to adult size 13.

Ms Thompson said: “That is mostly for kids and the kids bring along the parents and then the parents look and say ‘this is something I could possibly do, too’.

“It’s family orientated, good, clean fun.”

Ms Thompson said Mint Systems also offered roller skating parties, which have proved particularly popular for children’s birthdays, as well as for corporate events and fundraisers.

Mint Systems can provide skates for a party at Dockyard, or “we can bring the party to you”, Ms Thompson said.

She said the skating community on the island was growing; a “Bermy Skaters” group set up last year already has more than 40 members.

Ms Thompson said: “That’s pretty big considering all the people who skate are not all in the group.”

The mother of two added: “Skating is my quiet space, my place of peace. I find a lot of people who skate with me feel the same way.”

Aside from local customers, the new business owner said she anticipated custom from cruise ship passengers, too, once the season begins.

Ms Thompson is assisted at the shop by two part-time staff, as well as by friends “who want to see me succeed. It is really expensive to do this, my friends have been very supportive in my venture”.

Mint Systems Skate Shop is open every Saturday and Sunday from noon until 5pm.

Skates and other items can also be ordered online at www.mintsystemsbda.com. Payment is made offline.

Owner Keola Thompson at Mint Systems Skate Shop at the Clocktower Mall in Royal Naval Dockyard (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Roller skaters outside Mint Systems Skate Shop at the Clocktower Mall in Royal Naval Dockyard (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published January 10, 2022 at 8:01 am (Updated January 11, 2022 at 8:05 am)

New skating business just rolling along

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