On free skate Sundays, the roller rink is filled to capacity, and she has to turn people away. From Friday night to Sunday night, between private parties and open skating hours, the venue is …
On free skate Sundays, the roller rink is filled to capacity, and she has to turn people away. From Friday night to Sunday night, between private parties and open skating hours, the venue is completely booked. Brenda Reasor has had so much success managing the Wellman Skating Rink over the last nine months, you might wonder if she ever gets a day off.
“She does take time off during the week if she works all weekend,” assures Kelly Litwiller, Wellman City Administrator.
Reasor began working as the skating rink’s manager in the fall of 2021. Before that, she spent seven years as the store manager at Freeman Foods, and then worked a bit at Parkside YMCA. It was while doing a YMCA presentation at a Wellman City Council meeting that she learned about the open position at the city-owned rink.
“I came into this position not knowing at all what I was going to do. I had never been in the skating rink. I just jumped right in and realized that a lot of it is marketing,” Reasor said. “I started to do [a lot of Facebooking] to let people know that the skating rink was here, because lots of people didn’t have a clue.”
Once Reasor started publicizing the rink and expanded its hours, people started showing up, not just from Wellman, but from Fairfield, Williamsburg, Iowa City, Solon, Muscatine, and Davenport. With skating rinks becoming increasingly scarce, the Wellman rink became a destination.
“We grossed $105,000 in revenue just from November to June 30,” Litwiller said. In a typical year, the rink brought in “$25,000 to $40,000, depending on what the year was like and how many private parties we had booked.”
The skating rink charges everyone $6 admission at the door, with skate rental available at no additional cost. However, it’s the trinkets available at the concessions counter that have made the difference in the rink’s profitability. Reasor brought glow toys, mohawks, huge fuzzy mustaches, and other novelties to the site.
“Kids just love all this stuff. When its dark out there and they’ve got their glowing glasses and mohawks on, it’s really cool to watch,” Reasor said.
The rink’s expanded hot food offerings have also brought in extra cash. Skaters can now refuel with French fries, onion rings, pretzel bites, corndog bites, and chips with cheese or salsa. Pizza, garlic bread, and chicken strips are also on the menu.
Keeping the skating rink fun and functional has also come at a cost. The City has made some capital investments, including a wheel cleaning machine, a floor cleaning machine, and a new $4000 sound system. The previous sound system, installed in the early 1990’s, constantly shorted out and would shut off in the middle of songs during live skating.
The electrical system is also badly in need of an update. With the new air fryers and pizza ovens working simultaneously, the breaker pops.
New skates are next on Reasor’s repair and replace list.
“This last season, with the constant use and abuse, they are all really starting to wear out. Every day we have laces that are broken or bearings that need replaced. The insoles come out. Just basic wear and tear,” she said.
Both kids and adults have ample opportunity to enjoy the rejuvenated rink. This summer, the rink was open three days during the week, giving local kids an opportunity to stay active and socialize close to home. This fall, there will be designated family nights, where unattended kids won’t be admitted to keep things safe and fun for families. Adult nights will also return, where only those 21 and older will be admitted, and they can bring alcoholic beverages.
With so much new and improved at the Wellman Skating Rink, you would think it’s manager might run out of ideas for what to try next. She has not.
“I’m hoping that I can take a skate instructor course and become an instructor,” Reasor said. “And then I’m hoping in summer to put on a little camp or something fun like that for the kids.”
Follow Wellman Skating Rink on Facebook and Google for current hours and events. The rink will be closed until September 10 for improvements.