To be honest, I wasn’t aware that Walmart sold figure skates, but I knew for a fact that their skates didn’t come with the same level of service or expertise that skate technicians provide. Walmart is not going to sharpen the blade, provide comfort adjustments, perform a dynamic blade alignment, heat mold your skates or even consider performing a professional fitting. They’re also not going to help you determine the proper level or size skate you should buy. A reputable skate technician will do all these things for you for you before you even start comparing the difference in the quality of products.
I think people sometimes fall into the “rental skate” trap. They are used to approaching the rental skate counter, announcing their shoe size and getting a pair of skates. It’s a straightforward, simple process. Why wouldn’t buying a pair of skates work the same way? Well, since rental skates are made to be recycled among literally hundreds of skaters, the skates are designed to fit the most amount of people. It’s this reason that rental skates are so often uncomfortable and difficult to skate in. When you purchase your own pair of figure skates, you want the boot to be the best fit possible for your feet not just because it’s more comfortable, but because it will physically help you skate better.
I was curious to see just what kind of ice skates Walmart sold and took a look online. Guess what? They do sell skates (well, it’s not actually Walmart, it is other companies using Walmart’s online sales platform instead), however, the majority of them are pond skates. Customers might be attracted to the low sales price of such skates, but it is vital to realize that with skates, you get what you pay for.
A pond skate like those sold online at Walmart doesn’t hold the foot snug and has very little support to speak of. They’re mass produced, generic-shaped and not only does the skater’s foot slip easily inside, but we’ve had customers who learned the hard way by having their pond skates break down and lose whatever ‘support’ they had to begin with after just two skating sessions.
Here’s the bottom line – if you’re paying for skating lessons, don’t disregard the advice your coach gives you. You’re paying that coach for their time and knowledge – they want the skater to succeed just as much as you do. So if your coach tells you that it’s time to invest in your own skates, it is to your benefit to buy them from a skate tech.
You’ll be paying for the ice time (and the coach) and learning to skate is difficult enough without trying to compensate for using the wrong equipment. To make the most of your time and money, be sure to buy the equipment that’s going to help maximize the skater’s experience and skill. We all want our kids to build self-confidence and succeed at what they do and the proper equipment will help them do just that. Quality skates sound expensive, but if you divide the cost of skates by the number of hours you’re skating, it’s actually the least expensive part of the entire sport.