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Centralia Rollerdrome was finally able to reopen its doors Thursday after a four-month closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a period filled with renovations and updates.
The roller rink just had the original maplewood floor completely resurfaced for the first time since Randy and Christina Ray bought the place in January of 2000. It has been slightly resurfaced every couple years, down a couple layers or so, but this time they went all the way down to the original paint. It was capped with a new Rollerdrome logo in the middle of the floor.
“We decided we wanted a clean, beautiful floor,” said manager Jennifer Locy, Randy and Christina’s daughter.
The rink has been family owned and operated for the last 20 years when the Ray family moved from Spokane to purchase the place.
“We’re the oldest roller rink in Washington state and I think the second-oldest in the country,” Locy said.
Ray’s first job was working on skates at a roller rink in Spokane. His best friend’s dad owned the rink and Ray fell in love with the atmosphere and business. He worked his way up and eventually became manager of that rink for a decade.
“This was his dream; to own a roller skating rink,” Locy said.
Thursday night’s reopening was a welcome sight to Locy, who’s husband and son also work at the rink. The family has worked diligently the past four months to clean and refurbish the building in anticipation of reopening once Lewis County hit phase 3 of Gov. Jay Inslee’s Safe Start Washington plan.
“I felt it was a pretty good turnout but it wasn’t too busy,” Locy said. “Everybody was able to socially distance. It wasn’t too crowded at all.”
And the new floor isn’t the only change customers will see when they arrive. The four-month closure allowed the family to refurbish things they didn’t have time to do before. New siding was put on the outside of the building and the bathrooms were completely remodeled.
“Those are big projects that are time-consuming that we would have done slowly over time, but because we had the time available we ended up doing it all at once,” Locy said. “It was kind of stressful because we didn’t have any money coming in. We didn’t even know when we would be able to open.”
In accordance with state mandate, masks are required inside the building and while skating. Signs on the wall indicate the mask requirement, as well as social distancing and sanitizing reminders. Plastic barriers are put up on the front counter and the skate rental area. Sanitizing stations are also set up around the building.
“Plus, employees are going to be going through and sanitizing throughout the session periodically, too,” Locy said. “It’s a little different than it used to be but we’re just happy to be open.”
Locy and her family had no idea when Lewis County would reach phase three and they would be able to reopen their business. Four months is a long time to have no revenue coming in, she said. They were also trying to make sure they were ready and able to comply with guidelines once they were given the go-ahead to open.
“It was just more scary; the uncertainty of it,” Locy said.
They had to refund or reschedule birthday party deposits that were slated for spring and summer back when they closed in mid March. It was tough on everyone.
“We had so many customers that were so flexible with us,” Locy said. “Our customers have just been amazing and supportive through all of this.”
The Rollerdrome has a loyal following of local patrons, many of whom have been bringing their family to skate there for generations, Locy said.
“When we first got the rink, I see those people bringing their kids skating,” Locy said. “It really is a family. They’re not just my customers.”
The Rollerdrome is also hosting private parties to rent out the rink, as well, for those who want to experience skating but are worried about their health and safety around others.
“We know some people want to come out and skate and have fun but may not be comfortable being out in the crowds just yet,” Locy said.