One of the owners of Jacksonville’s roller-skating rink says she’s sad to have to sell it.
Lucy Buck, along with her husband Jim, listed the Eight Wheeler Roller Rink for sale this week. The couple has owned and operated the facility since 1973.
Lucy came up with the idea for the rink after traveling to Alton for skating lessons and practice during her time as a competitive skater. She had previously served as a traffic director for WLDS and said she wanted to start her own business.
Buck says it was hard for her to put the rink up for sale.
“When we went in to sign the papers to put it up for sale, I shed some tears,” Buck says. “It’s been my life, it’s my soul. I walk in there and I am over-flooded with memories. It’s just really hard to put into words how much that rink means to me.”
The rink, which Buck says is for sale in part because of a lack of business, at one point had 300 to 400 skaters on Friday nights years ago. One of her favorite memories is the 8 Wheelers Skating Club.
“We had a lot of skaters that came to learn artistic skating. We had a state meet in 1982, which is one of the biggest state meets that they had had up to that time,” says Buck.
“A lot of my memories, of course, are with my own children skating. Jay skated, Jeff skated, and then Sarah also skated, and she skated all the way up through Illinois College, and her last year at Illinois College, she was asked to represent the United States at the German Cup.
"We had school skate nights, and all of the boys and girls come from the different schools for their night, and just seeing the fun and the joy that they’re having made it all worthwhile,” she continues.
And there were other activities, like indoor hockey. In recent years, birthday parties and other private gatherings have been a big part of 8 Wheeler.
Buck says when the rink is sold, the plan is to have a “last skate” for family, friends and supporters.
“On our Facebook, we’re getting flooded with people from all over the country, from Texas to Pennsylvania,” she says. “Just all over that say, ‘As soon as you let us know, we’ll fly out.’”
Buck says the hope is to keep 8 Wheeler open until it’s sold, but she says if business continues to stay down, it could be difficult with the rising costs of operations and maintenance.
The listing price through Grojean Realty is $250,000. Buck says there’s been interest in the building, but not for the purposes of keeping it as a rink. She wants it to remain a place for skaters to spin their wheels when the property changes hands.