- Last Updated on Friday, 04 April 2014 11:50
- Published on Friday, 04 April 2014 11:49
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Westmoreland County business-man Stan Schoppe spends much of each week working to preserve a part of Americana. Schoppe owns Stan’s Skateland roller skating rink in Montross, one of just 20 roller skating rinks still open in Virginia.
Indoor roller skating has been on a roller coaster ride in America since it was first introduced in the 1930s. It was especially popular in the 70s with the advent of disco music and then again in the 80s and 90s with the introduction of in-line skates. But there have been lows as well, in the 40s and 50s, and recently, as economic woes have plagued the country.
“We opened in 1980, and through the 90s, things were going great,” Schoppe said. “We would have 250 to 300 people a night. But over the last seven years, there has been a decrease. Now, 75 a night is about the best we do.”
But despite the ups and downs of the roller rink business, Schoppe remains undaunted. “The kids have a great time. We do a lot of birthday parties. And I have a 67-year-old man who drives from West Point every Friday and Saturday to skate.”
“We get school kids from King George, Richmond County, Lancaster County and from Cople and Washington District Schools in Westmoreland County,” Schoppe said. “Right now is one of our busiest times of the year.”
Schoppe ended up in Montross 45 years ago, almost by accident. “I was 21 years old, living in Richmond, and I came over to repair some kitchen equipment at the Dairy Freeze next door. The owner, Clarence Osborne, told me he was trying to sell the restaurant.”
“I said, ‘Well, I’d like to buy it, but I don’t have enough money.’ He went with me to the bank and helped me arrange financing and even took a second mortgage himself. That’s how I got started,” Schoppe said.
Schoppe’s Dairy Freeze, with mouth-watering cheeseburgers, ice cream and many other fast food items, has become a legendary Montross eating place over the years. Its success led him to build Stan’s Skateland next door, 34 years ago.
“I was advised against it,” he said. “But it boomed.”
With manager Dottie Lewis, the occasional help of his two grown children and two young employees, Schoppe keeps the roller rink rolling. January through April, which are the rink’s most active months, they feature TGIFJam Nights, Rock’in Oldies Nights and Country Nights.
Skateland is located at 17408 Kings Highway in Montross, right next door to the Dairy Freeze on Route 3. It is open Friday and Saturday nights and Saturday and Sunday afternoons. The phone number is 804-393-9890.
The rink has rooms for birthday parties and other events. There is a snack bar featuring pizza and other snacks and drinks, as well as a game area and a pool table. “Winter’s our best time of the year,” said Lewis. “When the weather warms up, we have to compete with Little League, T-Ball and the outdoor sports.”