The popularity of scooter riding is exploding and St. Albert is at the epicentre of the action, thanks to local scooter shop Wheelz.
Wheelz Scooter Shop recently moved the scooter store from Perron Street to a new location in the Riel Business Park, which allowed them to expand beyond a shop and create a unique indoor scooters-only park which opened February 1.
Scooter riding is surging in popularity and outdoor skate parks are becoming increasingly crowded with kids riding push scooters. The extreme sport uses a scooter to perform stunts similar to that of BMX biking and skateboarding.
The new 1,500 square-foot indoor riding park and shop owned by Sean and Silvia Danchuk is completely unique to North America. The store itself is only one of four scooter-only shops in Canada but with the expansion and addition of the indoor park it is now the only one of its kind on the continent. Wheelz serves customers from Fort McMurray to Red Deer.
The duo decided to move and expand their business shop from their former shop on Perron Street to the larger location. They wanted to not only expand their business, but also help grow the up-and-coming sport of scooter riding.
“We are huge proponents of trying to grow the industry,” Silvia said. “Scootering is a relatively new sport so trying to give those kids a place to go, and grow whether it’s in the competitive world or just growing the sport itself.”
Part of the goal of the expansion is to help groom local riders to be contenders in the world of professional scooter competitions.
The Danchucks both work full-time at the shop. Their only other full-time employee Ashton Marcinkoski, is a semi-pro sponsored rider. This weekend Marcinkoski is in California representing North Scooters at the International Scooter Association (ISA) North American qualifier.
Kick scooters have been around for approximately 100 years, but it is only in recent years the sport has become more mainstream. The growth started in the ’90s and was popularized with the Razor scooter. Since then the sport has entered the extreme sports scene with some professional riders making millions of dollars a year in endorsements and competition prizes.
The Danchucks are working on building their own team of riders to sponsor who will represent Wheelz at international competitions and within the local community. The team of five riders is looking to add a few more names in 2017.
With the addition of the indoor park the duo expect the sport to continue to grow, giving local enthusiasts a place to practice during the winter months.
“We built a little scooter community because we wanted something they could do all year around,” Sean said. “Kids in the states, they get to ride all year around and our kids don’t have that opportunity because of snow.”
The enthusiasm of riding by their sons, Seth, 11; and Sawyrr, 10; inspired the first shop to open in 2015. Before having kids, the couple knew nothing about the sport. Their sons fell in love with the sport after watching YouTube videos of riders doing stunts and tricks.
After travelling to the United States for high quality parts and ordering them online, the Danchucks decided to open the first shop downtown.
“Our kids rode scooters when they were three and four and we were sick of going to United Cycle or Canadian Tire and buying scooters,” Sean said. “We did lots of research online and we found out there is way better stuff in the market and that’s what we offer now to everyone around us.”
When they decided to expand the family business, they wanted to create a professional level park in the new location. The space features a professionally designed park created and built by Canadian Ramp Company. The company and its sister company American Ramp Company are known for building high profile concrete skate parks across North America.
The park is laid out with a step up, wall ride, quarters for dropping in and a big ramp with a foam pit for practicing high jumps. Riders can also grind on rails or use the box in the park.
“It’s a small park but it’s a really efficient use of space,” Sean said. “It’s all usable. It’s not just sticking stuff in there.”
Riders can use the park for five dollars an hour and if they need some extra guidance, the shop offers lessons for new and experienced riders who want to learn more.
Although the shop has a few older skilled riders in their late teens, the park is mainly full of kids between the ages of seven and 14.
The Danchucks think the sport is more popular with the younger crowd because it is easier to get started than BMX riding and skateboarding.
“It’s easier to be good,” Silvia said. “You don’t see a lot of really good people on a skateboard but on a scooter they can do a lot of really cool tricks. It’s hard for a young kid to pick up a bike and ride in the park.”
Silvia and Sean and their dog Dually the Great Dane can be found at the park hanging out with the young riders. In June Silvia quit her job as an accountant to focus on the new location.
“I am excited to do something different,” Silvia said. “It’s totally different and I get to spend time with my kids.”
To help grow the sport locally, Wheelz offers summer camps while school is out. The weeklong camps take kids to outdoor parks across the region.
The new shop is located at #250, 6 Renault Crescent and the staff can be reached at 780-460-4299. Find them on Instagram at @wheelzscootershop.