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Howard's Inc., Coudersport, PA

Howard's Inc.

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Burkhouse

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Bill Pekarski: Day 126, Living life on my terms

Bill Pekarski:

Day 126, Living life on my terms.

Growing up in Coudersport during the late 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s was a special time. Before the days of internet and cell phones, kids used to gather and hang out together more often. We hung out at the movies, the bowling alley, sporting events, and of course, the skating rink. In fact, I would be willing to bet that there are many of you who read my stories that spent a large percentage of their formative years hangin’ with their friends at the rink.

I have trouble thinking of any memories that don’t center around Magic Valley Skateland. I grew up there, I would meet my friends there, I fell in love there (on a weekly basis sometimes), I worked there, and a part of me died there when its doors closed for the last time.

Since that time, I have often been asked about what it would take to start a new rink. Well, considering the current state of our community and the need for the younger residents of our area have a place of their own; I thought I should give it some serious thought.

What would it take to build a new skating rink in Coudersport? Besides a whole lot of money, there are many steps to be considered.

Primary concern would be location. You need to have a large enough piece of property for a large building and ample parking. Also, we would need to try and avoid any residential areas as the rink would have loud music and noise from time to time and we would not want to cause any hardships for residents.

Another concern would be how to build it. A problem with our original rink was that the floor was prone to sweating in warm and humid weather making it impossible to skate safely. It could be effectively handled by building a floor with some sort of hydro/temperature control system during construction. By doing so the facility could be used year round.

That being said, we just greatly increased the construction costs of said building. The specialized floor would not be cheap and I am unsure if it would create any maintenance issues. Overall, having enough starting capital is a huge stumbling block. Whoever would chose to invest in such a facility would have to do so with the knowledge that it would take years to earn the investment back and even then, it would be difficult to make it a real money maker. It would need to be more of a labor of love that would operate mainly to cover expenses.

Insurance also presents a huge problem. As a business, you are required to carry certain levels of coverage and liability. Just having a sign that says “skating at own risk” is just not enough these days.

Having a game room is not really a problem as companies are out there that will supply you with the games, service them, and exchange them out as new ones are made and others lose popularity. Pool tables, foosball, and air hockey are actually fairly inexpensive and could be bought outright by the rink for 100% profit.

It would take a substantial amount of capital to purchase rental skates, parts, and supplies to service skates. You would need to have more than just 5 pairs of skates in each size and as they get bigger, they can be costly.

The sound system would need to be state of the art and I would want to consider a video board that could show videos or fun graphics. Also, there would need to be a high tech lighting system to go with the music. Having a good club atmosphere will only make the place more attractive.

The snack bar could go a couple of ways. The one at Magic Valley Skateland only had candy, soda, and simple foods like Pizza and pretzels that could be cooked in a little electric oven. If someone were more ambitious and wanted to pay a little more for insurance and the necessary staff, you could consider adding a deep fryer and grill to make a larger variety of fast foods. It could also play well if you wanted to open the game room and snack bar to the public on non-skating days creating additional income. It would also require adjustments to the construction plans and fire suppression systems.

We would need to build a reputation as a safe place where parents would feel comfortable leaving their children. Rules would need to be made and strictly enforced. That being said, we were all kids once and I know how we felt about rules and how often we bent, fractured, or outright broke them. It would just have to be understood from the start that if the kids want a place to go, they have to respect it.

Looking back now, I realize how special Richard Long was for building that first rink and taking a chance. He didn’t know for sure if it would take off and be popular; he only operated on a hunch. I also don’t think he did it to become wealthy; he did it for the kids to have some place to go. Owning his own construction company probably also helped him to control his costs.

Lastly, who do you get to run the business? They would need to be knowledgeable, have a good disposition, be respected, and be trusting of their customers. It would really take a special person, or group of people to pull something like that off.

Once again, Richard Long was that type of person. I remember skating every weekend and being bummed out that I needed rental skates. My family could not afford to buy me skates of my own, even though I really wanted them. Richard new this and one day he had me come into the skate room. He had me try on a pair of men’s skates he said that he “had laying around.” They were a perfect fit and he told me to enjoy them and that they were mine. It was such a special gift for a kid like me and I was so proud to finally have my own skates!

Well, that is just some random thoughts on some of the basic hurdles that would need to be crossed in order to bring a new rink to town. It is nothing to consider lightly or haphazardly.

Today I want to dedicate my progress to Richard Long and everything he did to make my childhood, and the childhood for countless others, the best that it could be. He was truly one of a kind.

10 comments :

Anonymous said...

Hey I remember the fun an food barn, that was a great place to go ... Gene Erway had the right idea.

Anonymous said...

thanks for reading my post and responding dont think it would be as expensive as a new pool depending on any help that is out there u r right our kids definitely need somewhere to hang out safe and where there are rules but fun thanks bill ur a great person

Anonymous said...

Hey I remember that place, we had good times there, and it was safe. man I think back to it and the people(kids) good times we had, yes wish we had some things like MVS, and FFB now for the kids, with out internet attached to it just good family fun,

Anonymous said...

I feel it would be nice to revive the old magic valley.. and make it new again..

Anonymous said...

someone ought to put this before our oudated older town forefathers

Anonymous said...

our poor community can not afford the overpriced pool also with such foolish thinking as 2 dollar generals in our TOWN WHERE OUR OUR LEADERS

Anonymous said...

I remember working at Magic Valley as a DJ. Rich really cared about the kids coming in there. He ran a tight ship. You could have fun, but he made sure that things didn't get out of hand. It was definitely "the" place to be on a Friday or Saturday night. It is too bad it closed, but I wonder if it was because business dropped off.

Anonymous said...

Great memories of a great place.
I actually met my wife there.

Anonymous said...

I bet you shop at Dollar
General & when you cannot get what you want at one, that you go to the other one before you would drive to Olean.

Anonymous said...

I met her there too!