Shoe with a wheeled heel a hot seller
By Katherine Nichols
Advertiser Staff Writer
|The Heely shoes, which have a wheel in each heel, are available in more than one model. Adept wearers can do 360s and ramp jumps with these.
Richard Ambo The Honolulu Advertiser
Added Wally Parcels of Bikefactory Sportshop: "We probably get 50 to 100 calls a day."
As The Advertiser reported last week, if your kids don't own them, Heelys probably have climbed to top of their wish list.
What's a parent to do?
To start, learn more about the product.
A brief review: Heelys combine stylish athletic shoes with a high-quality urethane wheel inserted into what surfers might call a "fin box" sunk into the heel. People can alternate running and gliding with a mere tilt of the foot.
"I've seen the scooter come and go," said Lane, "but these shoes are really fashionable." He predicts that the appeal to the "groms," or surf crowd, and the use as a regular shoe when riders pop out the wheel will give the product longevity. "Parents are not just buying a toy for the kid," said Lane, who carries sizes 1 to 14 and tries to sell one size larger to growing youngsters so the shoes will last longer.
And sales aren't limited to teenage boys. Parcels said, "It crosses all demographics" because of the practical transportation element.
Heelys are slightly heavier than a typical sport shoe, with more padding, especially in the tongue area. One of two models on the market now is the Predator, which sells for about $89.99. The ABEC 3 Micro Bearings in the Predator wheels are not as fast, said Lane. The Shredder retails for $99.99 and is a little better quality shoe, said Lane. It houses ABEC 5 Micro Bearings. The superior bearings enable the wheel to roll farther and faster. The higher the number, apparently, the better the ride.
Slated for July are two new models. The Rage, with ABEC 3, probably will sell for $89.99, said Lane. The top-of-the-line Stealth features ABEC 7 Micro Bearings and will command $109.99. "They're a good looking shoe," Lane said of the not-yet-stocked Stealth. Highlights include leather exterior, a quick-lace system, an extra-fat padded tongue and the superior wheel. Lane said ABEC 7 is usually limited to professional or advanced riders. (An industry rumor has a rider wearing ABEC 7 wheels clocked at 35 mph downhill.) Replacement wheels cost $29.99 tp $39.99. Not only do these extend the life of the product, they provide various options with one pair of shoes.
Other tricks skaters (heelers?) have mastered are 360s, ramp jumps and riding on one foot. And if the grind plate is incorporated in the future, the sports of grinding (sliding down railings on the arch of the shoe) and heeling will likely be mentioned in one breath.
Everyone, however skilled, is advised to wear to safety gear, including knee pads and a helmet. Parcels confirmed that kids are buying the gear. But are they wearing it? "We hope so," he said.
Heelys are sizzling right now. The surf and sport shops are loving it. Only one question remains: Will local physicians and emergency rooms experience the same frenzy?
Hawai'i merchants who carry Heelys
- Bikefactory Sportshop, 740 Ala Moana Blvd., 596-8844
- Koa Boardsports, 2420 Koa Ave., 923-0189
- Turbo Surf, 870 Kapahulu Ave., 738-8726
- Hale'iwa, Tropical Rush, 62-620 A Kamehameha Highway, 637-8886
- Exchange Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Building 1404, 254-3890
- Bike Werx, 95-1249 Meheula Parkway, No. D7, 627-0714
- Point Break, 41-849 Kalaniana'ole Highway, 259-9946
- Big Island Surf Co., Prince Kuhio Plaza, Hilo, (808) 959-2472
- Kona Coast Shopping Center, Kona, (808) 326-7199
- Backdoor, 5-5161 Kuhio Highway, (808) 826-1900
On the Web: www.heelys.com