Luke and Annie Powell’s skate shop in Westside South isn’t just a way to make ends meet; it’s a legacy-building endeavor, deeply rooted in family.
And it got its start with a childhood wish.
Legacy Skates is a brick and mortar skate shop with a competitive edge: its robust in-store and online inventory. The shop boasts a wide selection of roller skates, inline skates, protective gear and accessories from Kansas City’s Westside South neighborhood, 2601 Madison Ave. Click here to explore Legacy Skates.
Legacy Skates is a brick and mortar skate shop with a competitive edge: its robust in-store and online inventory.
The shop boasts a wide selection of roller skates, inline skates, protective gear and accessories from Kansas City’s Westside South neighborhood, 2601 Madison Ave.
Click here to explore Legacy Skates.
“I wanted a pair of inline speed skates,” Luke Powell recalled, noting his 1990s dream came affixed with a ridiculous price tag.
“We lived in a trailer park. We really couldn’t afford cool stuff,” he continued. “My dad was like, ‘Oh, you’re never going to do this. It’s not going to be a part of your life. You’re going to use them for a week and throw them away.’”
His father’s initial dismissive reaction — doubt based in parental realism — resonated with Powell, setting in motion a life lesson that pushed him to keep dreaming beyond his circumstances.
“I just remember in my head saying, ‘I’m going to prove you wrong,’” he recalled, highlighting his determination and childlike stubbornness, which ultimately took him (and the pricey set of skates he managed to secure) gliding down a path of team skating, into the world of roller derby, and ultimately as a jammer of corporate product sales for major skate brands.
“My wife was a sponsored [roller derby] athlete. … I met her through roller skating. My daughter wouldn’t be around if I wouldn’t have met my wife,” he said, noting the impact the skating community has had on his life and things he’s likely to have missed out on if he hadn’t pursued his passion — including a shot at entrepreneurship.
Powell and his wife Annie — who herself competed as Anne Maul — opened their small skate shop, Legacy Skates, in the Crossroads Arts District in fall 2019; their way of giving back to a burgeoning skating community that’s given them everything, he said.
“Legacy Skates was started as more of a way to support our local roller derby community,” Powell explained, detailing the competitive world of roller derby and its roots as a space to empower women.
“We wanted to create an environment that was not only welcoming, but knowledgeable [and that] allowed [athletes] to have a storefront they could walk into, centrally located in Kansas City.”
Click here to learn more about Legacy Skates or to shop online.
From gear to wheels, bearings, and toe stops, Legacy Skates is stocked with anything and everything novice skaters and professional athletes need to reach their goals or to best enjoy their hobby.
And it set its wheels across the starting line at just the right time, Powell added.
“Anytime during a downturn or a recession, rollerskating does really well. It’s a form of cheap entertainment and — normally — people who are having a hard time can head to their local roller skating rink and walk in the door with a $20 bill and have their kids stay all day long,” he explained.
“When COVID hit, everything closed down and that’s when the panic button [was] hit. All of the companies, skate shops, roller rinks around the country were on hold. We didn’t know what COVID was really going to draw.”
Optimism eventually rounded the rink even with stay-at-home restrictions and entertainment outlets shuttered, as bored Kansas Citians ventured outdoors and were in sudden need of blades, skates, and boards — a welcome whip for Powell who was eager to meet their needs.
“We already had knowledge. We were already comfortable with the local community. I had worked for multiple top brands, so I already had the relationships to easily open up the accounts,” he said, indicating just how in demand products were late last spring and how critical it was to have a robust inventory and access to replenishing it.
“We were getting high volume orders daily. We had to hire multiple people,” Powell said. “It was insane and amazing all at the same time.”
Navigating ways to maintain the store’s inventory, hire smart, market and fund the business proved to be a juggling act for the Powells as they worked tirelessly to keep their balance.
“It was very invigorating, it feels like this big sense of accomplishment — but there’s so much more to be done because it literally has not slowed down at all since last March .”
On days when business is slower, Powell spends time teaching his 4-year-old daughter how to skate, he said.
“She loves to skate. We taught her how to do it in our house because rinks were closed during the pandemic, but now she loves to do it. She can’t wait to go to the roller rinks whenever we let her.”
Such joys remind Powell of his younger self and his relationship with his dad, who recently passed away shortly after he visited the new home of Legacy Skates in the Westside South neighborhood.
“When he visited, I was telling him, ‘Man, look, we made it. … Look what skating has done [for me] today. Look what you did. This is all because of you,’” he said. “I’m really glad we got to have that conversation.”
With the business up and running, Powell’s goals have shifted as he taps into the energies and life lessons of the legacy left behind by his father.
“Everybody who works here, they don’t work for us — they work with us. We always want to empower them to not only have a good time, but to find happiness,” Powell said, drawing parallels to his own pursuit of happiness.
“Every person that comes in and leaves here — I don’t care if they remember our company at all. I just want them to put those roller skates on — even for two or three times [before they] throw them in the garage — I want them to find the happiness that myself, my wife, and a lot of my friends have found through roller skating.”