Buying Skates Online
In a another article, How Are Your Skates Different from those at Walmart?, I discussed why it is so important to buy a quality figure skate that’s going to help the skater succeed versus buying a “cheap” skate online to try and save money. In this article, I wanted to acknowledge the fact that there are some quality skates now being sold on Walmart’s internet platform (and on Amazon, for that matter) by companies other than Walmart and Amazon. The fact that those skates are now available for purchase is great, but you still shouldn’t go buying them online if at all possible.
Why is that?
First off, you're not going to save money by buying them off Amazon. Unless the skate is on close-out, the most prices ever vary from an online vendor to your local skate dealer might be $15.00. There's very little mark-up in skates and as a result, there's very little room for them to be discounted. Because there is such a small deviation in prices, skaters usually end up paying more when they buy skates online rather than in person from a professional dealer because the skates still need to undergo a sharpening, possible blade alignment, heat molding and comfort adjustments. Your local dealer generally performs these items for free with the purchase of your new skates, but considers these chargeable items if you purchased the skate elsewhere. The retailer on Amazon, on the other hand, deems those "extras" as items that make the skate not eligible for return. So, you end up paying for the skate plus all the 'extras' you get from the dealer.
The problem is that ice skates are not sneakers and figure skating is not a casual sport. The risk with buying figure skates online is not taking into account the intricacies of the human body. Your online vendor isn't going to provide you a proper skate fitting and often enough, ice skates purchased over the internet fail their owners in three respects - they are not the proper size, brand, or model to fit your situation and it doesn't matter to the vendor - you buy at your own risk. Think Gracie Gold buys her figure skates over the internet? Of course not. Obviously, Gracie is an Olympian and very serious about her skating, but whether you're a serious skater or not, shouldn't you be as equally serious about your physical well-being as she is about hers?
When you think about it, ice skating requires an individual's entire strength and body weight to be focused on two, thin, steel blades. The skater is required to be able to balance, propel themselves across the ice, turn, and stop when needed. Higher level skaters, of course, also need to be able to perform field moves in addition to jumps and spins. Whether a beginner or upper level skater, performing these activities on an 1/8" wide steel blade places an incredible amount of pressure on a skater's feet, ankles and knees. As a result, any sort of improper fit in boot size or level can result in physical trauma to the body - sometimes evident immediately and sometimes not evident until later in life. At the very least, improper fit will result in the skater not able to maximize their skills and a premature breakdown of the boot, meaning you'll be buying another pair of skates sooner than later.
Receiving a professional skate fitting is very important. Every skater is unique - feet are different, bodies are different, skill levels and skating frequency differ. No two skaters, regardless of ability, are exactly alike. When it comes to ice skates, there's no "one size fits all". Therefore, someone with the proper training, experience, and knowledge should evaluate a skater in person to determine what's the best skate brand and model for each skater's individual needs. You simply can't get that expertise over the internet. Each skater is unique and when you consider the amount of money you're investing in a pair of skates, the amount of time you spend skating, as well as the potential pitfalls associated with purchasing an inappropriate pair of skates, buying figure skates over the internet doesn't make sense. Your online vendor isn't going to give you follow-up care or help when your skates don't fit properly and are giving you problems. Ice skates are simply one item that should be purchased in person.
After working with people's feet for 20 years in the orthotic business and fitting skates for over 15 years, we've learned that each foot, body, and situation is different. For this reason, Houston Skate & Sports Orthotics does not promote the sale of figure skates over the internet. We fit them professionally, and in person. Come see us, and get the skate that's right for you and your situation.