46-year-old Skates on Haight appears to be gone for good — leaving some customers in the lurch

46-year-old Skates on Haight appears to be gone for good — leaving some customers in the lurch
Photo: Camden Avery/Hoodline
By Camden Avery - Published on June 01, 2020.

Skates on Haight is one of the neighborhood's oldest businesses, keeping San Francisco supplied with roller skates, skateboards, snowboards and all the necessary ephemera since 1974.

But even prior to the pandemic, the brick-and-mortar retail crisis was slowing Skates' roll. A year ago, we reported that Skates was seeking a co-tenant to help shoulder its rent burden, as most of its business shifted to online sales.

"Out of legacy," owner Carol Sloan has held fast to the business — originally founded by her late partner Lee Cole, who died in 2009.

But with foot traffic to the neighborhood dropping, "our best prospects aren't in the Haight," she told us last year. "They're not even in San Francisco." 

It appears that prediction may have come to pass. Though some rental bicycles are visible inside Skates, the storefront has been closed since before the shelter-in-place order came down. The inventory on its website is barren. And Sloan has not been reachable; the store's voicemail box is full. 

Two tipsters from outside of San Francisco have written Hoodline to report that Skates — which owns the websites skates.com and rollerskates.com — took their web orders, but didn't fulfill them. 

Kathryn H. of Minneapolis says she purchased a $300 pair of skates from the company early this spring. Her purchase was confirmed and her account was charged, but the order was never completed.

The issue is surprising, because Skates is one of the Web's most prominent skating retailers. Sloan told us last year that even if she had to give up her Haight storefront, she would likely keep the online business going. 

Kathryn said successive calls and emails to Skates have gone unanswered, leaving her no recourse but to mark the charge with her bank as fraudulent, and report the shop to the Better Business Bureau.

"It would be interesting to know where that money is going," Kathryn said.

We'll continue to seek out Sloan, and get to the bottom of whether Skates' disappearance is permanent or a shelter-in-place blip.