Jennifer Goldstein insists she really didn’t major in rollerblading.
But the 1990 Wharton graduate’s unusual senior thesis “A New Product: In-Line Skates” has spurned her to open a Philadelphia store that specializes in nation’s newest sport. A second is planned to open the next one by the end of the year.
Goldstein’s shop, Bladin’ Action, is the only of its kind in Philadelphia, and she says the sport’s popularity is heading exactly where her thesis said it would go — through the roof.
“I knew going into this that it isn’t just a fad,” Goldstein said yesterday. “Rollerblading provides a great, low-impact workout — and of course it’s a lot of fun.”
The sport’s official name is in-line skating, though most know it by its most popular brand name, Rollerblade. Goldstein said it has expanded from 20,000 skaters in 1988 to over 2 million today — growth to make any marketing major’s head spin.
“In-line skates will be a household item by 2000,” Goldstein added. Students are beginning to skate in greater numbers around campus as well.
First-year Vet student Ylva Bostrom bought her in-line skates 3 months ago “on a whim,” and has been skating ever since.
“I took them with me to Sweden this summer — Rollerblading is really big over there,” Bostrom said. “It’s fun, easy and great exercise.”
Bostrom added that she skates on campus whenever she can and often encourages fellow students to join her.
A senior thesis was far from Goldstein’s mind when she first strapped on in-line skates as a junior at the University.
“I had dreamed of being a champion ice skater when I was little — but the first time I got on the ice I just kept falling,” Goldstein said. “In-line skating just seemed to come naturally to me.
“Goldstein said that after graduating in 1990 she was unable to find a full-time job she would enjoy, so she “created one” by starting Philadelphia’s first in-line skate store.
She now teaches beginning and intermediate in-line skating, as well as a popular skate-aerobics class.
“I’ve developed my classes by watching [traditional] aerobic and dance classes, and applying the things I liked to in-line skating,” she said.
Goldstein’s shop is part of the sporting club in the luxurious Center City hotel, The Bellevue at 224 S. Broad St. The shop offers sales, rentals and lessons as well as dance classes.
At first, her customers were exclusively club members and hotel guests, she said.
But after one year of business and extensive media attention, customers flocked from all over the city and suburbs, including some local celebrities.
“Dr. J. was here recently,” Goldstein said. “I couldn’t believe his feet — I fitted him with a size 16D.” Goldstein believes in-line skating is much safer than other popular sports such as skiing and ice skating, but still recommends that skaters wear knee and elbow pads.
“My motto is that everyone should practice safe sex, and safe rollerblading, by wearing protective gear,” she said. “When you fall you can get hurt because it’s like you’re skiing without snow.”
Ultimately, Goldstein said she would like to adapt her 50 page senior thesis into a mainstream book.
“I want to walk into a supermarket and see housewives reading ‘The Truth About In-Line Skates’ in the checkout lines,” Goldstein said.