Crazy Jim’s Skate Emporium

Dutch people go crazy for ice-skating. When a hard freeze starts, it’s a topic of casual conversation and serious news reporting. They know exactly the right conditions and the right period of time that’s needed for the right amount of ice to form on the canals. And when everything comes together, the party’s on! It’s super-fun. But also super-rare. It only happened one time in the decade that our family lived in Amsterdam. And I gather from my social media feeds that this winter is the first time that it’s happened since (almost exactly nine years later). I’m just glad we got to experience it once. It’s something truly magical.

But where do all the ice skates come from?!? Amsterdammers have tiny apartments, with minimal storage space. But somehow, they all seem to have access to a pair of skates for that once-in-a-decade moment when the canals freeze. This is another part of the magic, I think.

Ice Skates

When our family was living in Amsterdam, our magic came in the form of my friend Jim. He (and his wife Allison and son Luke) just so happened to have a visit planned in the same week that the once-in-a-decade hard freeze happened. And Jim just so happened to be volunteering at an ice rink in Orlando at the time, where he had access to a bunch of used equipment. And the three of them just so happened to be traveling together, with more baggage allowance than they needed. So they packed a bag full with hockey skates, figure skates, and hockey sticks. And it just so happened that we could all join the party with our own magical ice skates!

Amsterdam Ice - Jim and Eric

I still feel that sense of magic whenever circumstances come together here in Ohio. The little bog in our neighborhood freezes thick enough for at least a day or two of skating every winter (so, more frequent freezes in these parts than in the Netherlands). Still, the ice skating has been especially good this winter. So, I’ve been especially grateful to still have those skates from 2012. Sixty percent of our family has grown out of the sizes that we wore at that time, but we’ve been able to keep at least half of our family in skates by having kids “graduate” from one set of skates to another. And we got Olivia a pair of her own skates for Christmas one year, when she outgrew the largest size of our figure skates.

Ice Skates

Recently, I’ve been encouraging others to use our skates, so they can experience the magic for themselves. And enough people have started taking us up on the offer, that I’ve decided to say that our periodic visitors are “shopping at Crazy Jim’s Skate Emporium.” It’s totally free to “shop” at Crazy Jim’s Skate Emporium. So, I hope that the trend will continue! If you’d ever like to try it for yourself, here’s our current stock:

  • US11 Hockey Skates
  • US9 Figure Skates
  • US8 Figure Skates
  • US4 Hockey Skates
  • US3 Hockey Skates*
  • US1.5 Hockey Skates*

* Estimates (Actual Sizes not Listed on the Skates themselves)

Satisfied “customers” include Brooke, Meaghan, and Halle, who went to the large reservoir at West Branch State Park.

Griffin and Gillian also went to the large reservoir at West Branch State Park, and they seemed to have a good time.

Another H2O friend, Lauren, took a pair of skates to Sylvan Pond in the Cuyahoga Valley National Park (CVNP). And we met my sister and her kids for some skating at Kendall Lake in the CVNP.

The more snow that falls, the less optimal the skating conditions are. But the ice is so thick and safe right now that there’s not much to lose in giving it a try — as long as things stay at or below freezing. Feel free to send me a message, if you’re interested in giving it a try for yourself.

At Crazy Jim’s Skate Emporium, we don’t guarantee much. But we don’t charge much, either.

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