Skateworld, a downtown staple and locally owned business since the 1930s, has been chosen as this week’s Surviving the Hard Times business.
Frank and Penny Smith have owned the business since 1988 but their history with the rink goes back to when they were teens.
When Penny was 12 years old, she was hit by a car. Her femur in her left leg was broken and she needed rehabilitation.
Although she had never skated before, Penny decided skating would be her therapy. Even though she showed up at the rink on crutches, the owners allowed her to skate.
“I could skate better than I could walk,” remembers Penny. “It really helped with my therapy.”
Penny later met her husband Frank at Skateworld. Frank was the DJ and Penny was the skating guard.
When the couple fell in love and went on to get married, the original owners told them they should buy the rink one day.
After the husband of the original owners passed away, his wife sold the business. The rink quickly changed hands again and belonged to Steve and Helen Hendrickson.
The Hendricksons owned the building when the infamous tornado ripped through downtown Middlesboro. In order to repair the damage to the rink, the Hendricksons offered the Smiths a partnership in the business.
In 1988, the Smiths joined the Hendrickson as owners and revamped the rink. A couple of years later the Hendricksons decided to leave the business and Penny’s brothers became partners. A year later, the Smiths decided to become sole owners.
The couple have owned the rink since then and enjoy seeing familiar faces as old friends they used to skate with bring in their children and grandchildren to skate.
“We have great-grandkids come of people we used to skate with,” said Penny. ” We’ve seen generation after generation after generation of kids come through.”
Skateworld is open to the public Friday through Monday and is available for private parties all week.
Friday and Saturday hosts “Open Public Skating” from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday is “Family Skate” day from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and Monday is “Monday Madness” from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. All sessions are $5 admission days for a regular skate rental. Speed skates or Rollerblades are an additional $3.
The first Friday of each month hosts “Late Skate” from 7 p.m. until midnight with a $7 admission for a regular skate rental. The additional $3 charge for speed skates or Rollerblades applies.
For more information contact Skateworld at 606-248-0219, firstname.lastname@example.org, skateworldky.com or like their Facebook page.
To nominate a long-standing locally owned business to be featured in Surviving the Hard Times, contact Reina Parker Cunningham at 606-248-1010, ext. 205, email@example.com.