Rollerblading’s Fast Track
Business school isn’t supposed to be easy, but Jen Goldstein skated her way through Wharton, Literally.
After completing her senior thesis on the future of in-line skating industry, Goldstein turned the paper into a business plan and in 1991 opened Bladin’ Action, a Philadelphia shop selling skates and lessons.
Higher education paid off. Last year, the 29-year-old Goldstein grossed $150,000, and she opened her second store in May. Not bad, considering that one Rollerblade sales rep told her selling skates was “a guy’s job.”
Fewer than 1% of Rollerblade’s shop-owning dealers are women. But the company seems to have overcome its doubts about Goldstein. It recently promoted her to Blade Pro- one of only 1,000 dealers nationwide authorized to sell high-end skates.
The fact is, nearly half of the 20 million people who tried the sport last year were women. Retailers nationwide moved $396 million worth of in-line skates in ’94, a 40% increase from ’93, reports the National Sporting Goods Association.
Maybe one reason there aren’t more women on the retail end is that they’re at corporate headquarters instead. Jill Schulz, 37, for example, wears two helmets at the in-line giant: She performs on team Rollerblade, a sort of in-line Greatest Show on Earth, and simultaneously runs Camp Rollerblade, for skating enthusiast, Schulz still has trouble getting corporate bigwigs to take her seriously. It’s hard to get their full respect as a business person,” she laments, “ when they still see you on stage doing flips.” -Melissa Schorr