Rollerblade-junkie Jen Goldstein, the entrepreneurial force behind Bladin’ Action Inc helped launch Philadelphia into the inline skating trend. Her enthusiasm about inline skating hasn’t died since she left her wheel prints all over the University of Pennsylvania campus.
The 1990 Wharton School graduate founded Bladin’ Action, Philadelphia’s first in-line skate specialty shop. Bladin’ Action provides rental and repair services, and in addition to selling skates, has several instructors ready to teach novices all the ins and outs.
During her senior year at Wharton, Goldstein returned to campus with a pair of Rollerblades she’d purchased in New York. No one was selling in-line skates in Philadelphia in 1989. One day as she skated on the Penn Campus, Goldstein decided it would make good business sense to provide the supply to meet the demand.
She took a class on new product development. Professor Burton J. Brodo guided her in writing a 50-page these of the lifecycle of the in-line skate titled “The Development of a Product: In-Line Skates.”
After graduation, Goldstein had no money to begin a major retailing business, so she maxed out a credit card purchasing 10 rental pairs of in-line skates.
She located Bladin’ Action in the Bellevue Sporting Club. It was there that Goldstein had the opportunity to give both basketball legend Julius Erving and Shawn Bradley, then a of the Philadelphia 76ers, their first in-line skating lessons. Because of their size 16 feet, Goldstein also found out where to have custom skates made.
But marketing the idea of in-line skating was her biggest challenge. One problem was that many people perceive in-line skates as potentially dangerous, Goldstein said.
The conclusion of her thesis was that there would be a need for places to safely skate in as more pople bought their own skates. The streets and sidewalks are the most accessible alternatives to an in-line skating rink.
“It’s more fun to skate at a rink,” Goldstein said. “Although there’s a rink in Villanova, it’s too small and it has a limited adult hours.”
One of Goldstein’s goal is to build such a rink. She’s written a business plan and met with potential investors.
Within the last three years, more stores carry in-line skates. Their increase availability has mean an increase in competition to her store on Fifth Street, between and Sough and Lombard, in Philadelphia. To combat, Goldstein offers free classes. She’s also narrowed down her customer’s reasons for not wanting to buy a pair of in-line skates.
“People don’t like the feel of skates because either the skate fits too snug and they don’t like the way that feels or they don’t like the feel of a cheap pair of skates, which usually is uncomfortable.”
She also remains committed to teaching about the safe use of in-line skates and protective gear. The Bladin’ Action’s slogan is “Save your ass — take our class.” To that end she recommends renting a pair of skates and taking a class before someone decides to buy skates.
(photo caption) Jen Goldstein on wheels in front of her Bladin’ Action store at 506 S. Fifth Street, Philadelphia.