retro rolla

You can rent retro roller skates to skate through Toronto streets this summer

You will soon be able to live your best '70s life and explore Toronto on roller skates this summer.

Last year, people took to the streets to enjoy the warm weather and fresh air. With COVID-19 forcing people outside, outdoor activities like biking and rollerblading became more popular than ever.

Now, just in time for summer 2021, Retro Rolla is offering people a chance to rent roller skates and enjoy Toronto while getting active and staying safe.

retro rolla

Retro Rolla will offer hourly skate rentals for around $15-$18.

Founder of the company Henry O'Brien told blogTO that this idea came to him while on a walk by the lake last summer. 

"When summer hit last year, the city closed down streets for ActiveTO. I saw so many people rollerblading, skating, on bikes and running. It kind of dawned on me then that you can rent bicycles and stand-up paddleboards but there was nowhere to rent rollerskates" he said.

After doing some more research, Henry quickly realized that the pandemic was also causing a surge in popularity in rollerblading.

With this information, he decided to create Retro Rolla, a rental service located at The Bentway, that would allow people over the age of 18 to rent skates for an hour or more at a time.retro rolla

Retro Rolla's skate wheels are made of durable rubber to allow for city skating.

He says that the cost will start at $18 an hour and will allow the participant to skate around nearby or venture out on their own. 

"It's going to be recommended that people stay around [The Bentway] because it's a safe environment and a very smooth surface. But if someone wanted to rent skates for two or three hours, and go to Lake Shore, there is nothing stopping them," he said.

For those new to the sport, or just looking to be safe, Retro Rolla will offer a helmet and protective pads for an additional fee.

Their skates have outdoor wheels and high-quality bearings that O'Brien says is ideal for outdoor city skating. Roller skates, unlike rollerblades or inline skates, have four wheels and a toe stop.

retro rolla

Roller skates have four wheels arranged like a car's and a toe stop in the front.

O'Brien himself is not a professional in roller skating, nor does he have a background in the activity. His specialty is in sales, marketing and events, and that experience he is trying to put to use in his new business. 

"With COVID I've been seeing that, unfortunately, so many brick-and-mortar stores have been closing down. Our goal here is to create something that's somewhat mobile, and seasonal," he said.

Starting June, people will be able to visit Retro Rolla at The Bentway, and those interested can find them on Instagram for now. 

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