Empire Roller Rink, only roller rink in Columbia, closing next weekend

7 months 2 weeks 3 days ago Saturday, December 29 2018 Dec 29, 2018 Saturday, December 29, 2018 1:05:00 PM CST December 29, 2018 in News
By: David Estrada, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - After 80 years in operation, the Empire Roller Rink is closing down on Jan. 6. Show-Me Central Habitat for Humanity bought the building to expand its current facility.

The Trent Family opened the rink in 1938. Willie Trent, its current owner, tried to sell it as a roller rink without success. 

"There were very few people and the people who did wanted as a rink they didn't have the money, they couldn't close the deal or make a contract on it," he said. "They just couldn't afford it."

Trent said he agreed to sell the building to Habitat for Humanity because it is a good cause.

"It's for the community," Trent said. 

Jessica Farris-Ginther said she has skated at the rink since she was a child. Now, she brings her son to the Empire Roller Rink to follow in her footsteps. 

"I've been coming here since I was five or six, his age, with my mom and brother and dad," she said.

For some people, the Empire Roller Rink is more than just a place to have fun. 

Moo Paw practices competitive skating with her team at the rink. 

"For lessons, I come twice a week and for fun, on the summer I come all week but usually just Saturdays," she said. 

Trent said that just like Farris-Ginther many other people have grown up skating at the Empire rink. 

"There's been so many families that have skated here that the families actually would skate and then there would be a small child come in and say, you know my mom or you know my dad," he said. "Then, there would be somebody else come in, well you know my grandpa."

Trent said, "the rink is my life." He actually lives in an apartment located at the rink.

"I grew up in it, I mean my dad ran the rink and after he passed my mom ran the rink, and after she passed I ran it," he said. "It's always been just something that I did."

He said running the Empire rink has required a lot of commitment on his part. 

"There was a time when I counted up and for 50 years I never missed a Friday or a Saturday," Trent said. 

But after years in charge of the family business, Trent has decided to retire. 

"My kids, they are established and they don't want to work nights and weekends," Trent said. "This is almost like a restaurant business or something, you have to work a lot."

Empire is the only rink in Columbia. Skaters will now have to travel to the "Sk8 Zone" rink in Jefferson City.

"It's sad, it's super sad to see it go but I'm happy for the owners to get to retire," Trent said. 

Paw said the closing of Empire would make it a little harder for her to come to skating practices.

"A bit harder for my dad because we have it after school on Wednesday, sometimes," she said. "My dad will have to drive me to Jefferson City."

John Esterline, co-owner of Sk8 Zone, said Trent help them establish their roller rink.

"He's definitely developed the sport around here, helped roll skating stay in the mainstream of the kids’ activities," Esterline said. "He's a livelong memory of the skaters."

Trent called Empire customers his "extended family."

"There's times when I get really busy, sometimes the customers come behind the counter and help," he said.

He said he will miss the rink but he's glad to be able to retire after 55 years of running his family business. 

"I'm just 75 years old, so I'm still young but I don't want to be 90 and still be doing the same thing," Trent said.

However, he said it won't be easy to see his family tradition and a landmark in the community die. 

"This next week it's going to be a really interesting week because I've had a lot of people come in and shed tears about the place," he said. "It's like a family thing."

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA — Maries County deputies asked the public for help identifying two people who broke into a church and stole... More >>
14 hours ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 9:45:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The Cars 4 Kids event scheduled for Saturday has been postponed due to rain in the forecast. Organizers... More >>
17 hours ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 6:04:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Over 50 cats and dogs will be available for adoption at the Central Missouri Humane Society for a... More >>
18 hours ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 5:47:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - One Columbia mother said a school bus driver let her son get off the bus more than a... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 4:41:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY - A U.S. District Judge ruled against State Rep. Cheri Toalson Reisch, R-Hallsville, in a lawsuit about her... More >>
19 hours ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 4:24:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - A preliminary autopsy performed on Friday could not determine the gender or age of the infant remains found... More >>
20 hours ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 3:46:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A series of earthquakes shook parts of Kansas on Friday morning near Hutchinson, knocking... More >>
20 hours ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 3:38:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - The City of Columbia apologized after a community relations worker took a selfie at a crime scene. ... More >>
21 hours ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 2:21:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
VIENNA - A relief fund has been established for six firefighters injured Friday fighting a fire turned explosion at a... More >>
23 hours ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 12:34:00 PM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - MoDOT is teaming up with a major player in the ride-share industry as part of this year's 'Drive... More >>
1 day ago Friday, August 16 2019 Aug 16, 2019 Friday, August 16, 2019 3:14:00 AM CDT August 16, 2019 in News
SEDALIA – Governor Mike Parson told reporters Thursday he is considering a special session. The session would involve tax... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, August 15 2019 Aug 15, 2019 Thursday, August 15, 2019 9:14:00 PM CDT August 15, 2019 in News
HALLSVILLE - Local businesses, churches, and families painted the town purple and gold to welcome students back on their first... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, August 15 2019 Aug 15, 2019 Thursday, August 15, 2019 7:56:00 PM CDT August 15, 2019 in News
JACKSON COUNTY - Authorities have identified the body recovered from Blind Pony Lake earlier this week as Jackson County resident... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, August 15 2019 Aug 15, 2019 Thursday, August 15, 2019 4:50:00 PM CDT August 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - Police have identified a body found in north Columbia Thursday as an infant less than one year old.... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, August 15 2019 Aug 15, 2019 Thursday, August 15, 2019 3:16:00 PM CDT August 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - As students start at or return to school, enrollment at Columbia Public schools continues to rise. The... More >>
1 day ago Thursday, August 15 2019 Aug 15, 2019 Thursday, August 15, 2019 1:19:00 PM CDT August 15, 2019 in News
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A man who walked into a Missouri Walmart with loaded weapons and wearing body armor acknowledges... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, August 15 2019 Aug 15, 2019 Thursday, August 15, 2019 11:44:00 AM CDT August 15, 2019 in News
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) — Missouri election officials are defending how they handled a petition to put new abortion restrictions... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, August 15 2019 Aug 15, 2019 Thursday, August 15, 2019 10:32:57 AM CDT August 15, 2019 in News
COLUMBIA - University of Missouri police arrested a man Wednesday afternoon after he allegedly exposed himself to a woman, then... More >>
2 days ago Thursday, August 15 2019 Aug 15, 2019 Thursday, August 15, 2019 10:09:48 AM CDT August 15, 2019 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 72°
12pm 82°
1pm 84°
2pm 85°
3pm 86°