Minnesota couple selling roller skating rink
An AP Member Exchange shared by the Post Bulletin
BROWNSDALE (AP) — The Rohls have owned and operated Brownsdale’s roller skating rink for 13 years. The couple has five children, all of whom worked at the rink while growing up. Even the grandkids helped out every now and then.
Since the mid-1950s, the town’s rink has provided a place where the people could simply be.
“We went down to Walt Disney World once and wore our sweatshirts. And people ask, ‘That place is still open?'” said Brett Rohl, 52, co-owner of Rohler Rink. “Every time people see it, they can’t believe it’s still going.”
But their youngest child has turned 22, and life is changing for Brett and Ronda Rohl, 49. They decided it was time to put the rink up for sale. The business was posted Jan. 26 on Craigslist, with an asking price of $300,000.
“We’ve got mixed emotions,” Brett Rohl told the Post Bulletin . “All the kids are getting busier, and it’s harder. I enjoy visiting people, customers, and talk to them. We’ve built a lot of friendships along the way.”
Lisa Morehead, 52, of Brownsdale, grew up a block away from the rink and remembers spending many hours there every weekend. She said that the business continues to bring in people from out of town.
“We got to make friends other than just those from school,” Morehead said. “It didn’t surprise me back in the day. It was the place to be. There used to be buses that went to Austin (and) Dodge Center to pick kids up.”
Mark Staples built Mark’s Roller Rink in Brownsdale in 1955. But fire destroyed the rink a year later. The business was quickly rebuilt. In 1970, Mark Staples’ son, Delmer Staples, took over and renamed it Del’s Roller Rink. In 1976, the business changed hands again and became known as the United Skates of Rollerblading Center before the Rohler family bought it.
When the rink was built, it was one of the largest in the area. At the time there were also rinks in Waseca and Dodge Center. Both have since closed.
When Morehead heard that the Rohls planned on selling the rink, she was apprehensive of what lies ahead for Brownsdale’s rink.
“I was kind of sad to hear it is for sale, as we have lost so many businesses in Brownsdale already,” Morehead said, “I would love to see someone keep it open as a rink, but I don’t know the demand for it.”
During the rink’s heyday, cars would be parked on every street block around, Brett Rohl said.
Today, the number of skaters fluctuates. But he often sees return business from people who skated at the rink when they were younger.
“We lose the skaters once they get their driver’s license, then all of a sudden, they’re back with their kids,” Brett Rohl said. “They say ‘I’m back’ and they bring their kid who’s old enough to skate.”
He recounted days when 100 or 150 skaters would be zipping across the hardwood floors, and how much he enjoyed bantering with the children or striking up a conversation with someone who lived nearby.
People who visit the 216-feet-long by 50-feet-wide rink tell the Rohls how it feels like a time machine. Other than updating the bathrooms, the Rohls have maintained the look the rink had when it opened in the ’50s.
The rink also has an arcade, with more than 20 game, a pool table and air hockey tables.
“We’ve only had one or two people say we should remodel,” Brett Rohl said. “A lot of people coming in said to keep it the same. They like that it’s ‘faded’ or ‘old looking.’ I think it’s neat.”
He hasn’t yet received any offers to buy the rink. And he hadn’t thought about what he and Ronda will do once they sell. What they do hope is that the business will remain a roller rink.
“I suppose you never know,” Rohl said. “We’d feel them out, and see what their answers could be. I guess that’d be a tough decision too, to see if they’d tear it down and make it a carpet store or something. . I would hate to see it leave. A lot of families and kids go through here, and they need a place to have fun and enjoy roller skating.”