Star Wheels Skate Center closing after entertaining youth for 27 years

Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Star Wheels Skate Center’s owner Tim Mithell will permanently close the rink April 1, 2017, at midnight after 27 years in business. Under new ownership, the building will be converted to indoor climate-controlled storage units.
Photo by Jay Langston

Star Wheels Skate Center will close for business April 1, 2017, but long-time owner Tim Mitchell doesn’t plan to skate off into the proverbial sunset.

Mitchell is from Fayetteville, and also owns a skating rink in Fayetteville, Tenn., which he opened Aug. 26, 1982. “Fayetteville had a rink that was old, and Lewisburg did, too, so I decided to open one here, too” Mitchell said. “I wanted to open a rink with lights and modern sound systems, and do it in Fayetteville and Lewisburg as well.”

He opened Star Wheels Skate Center in Lewisburg Dec. 1, 1989. “I still have the rink in Fayetteville, and I’ll be in business there for 35 years next August,” Mitchell said.

When asked how many skaters he’s had at his Lewisburg facility over the past 27 years, Mitchell responded “a bunch,” with a laugh. “Friday and Saturday nights have declined over the last few years, but on Saturday and Sunday afternoons we have all the birthday parties I can handle,” Mitchell said. “In the history of Lewisburg, I’ve probably invested more money for the entertainment of the kids of Lewisburg than anybody else” in the private sector. “I’ve spent a lot of money over the last year on updates,” Mitchell added.

A cancer survivor. Mitchell had colon cancer, and was deemed cancer-free in 2000 by his doctors. “I love skating,” the 73-year-old Mitchell said. “I still skate once a year in the Christmas parade in Fayetteville.” Mitchell has skated in the Fayetteville Christmas parade 33 times. “I had one lady tell me one time, when I rolled by, that ‘it wouldn’t be a Christmas parade if you weren’t in it’.”

“I think everybody should learn to roller skate. Last month I had a father, son, and grandfather... all three generations got to participate,” Mitchell said. “I’ve enjoyed roller skating,” Mitchell said. “I never look at my watch to see how long it is until closing time. It’s a job I’ve always enjoyed. I’ve been involved in roller skating for 38 years. I worked for my brother in Indiana for three years when I got started.”

The skating rink owner has another passion that runs on wheels. Mitchell worked as a race car driving instructor for Dale Jarrett Driving Adventures until 2011. Prior to that he ran in the ARCA series races. “About half the guys that race on Sunday afternoons, I’ve raced against a lot of them.”

“People have been supportive here,” Mitchell said of Lewisburg. “It’s come a time in my life to make a business decision and I decided to get out.”

“It’s an hour’s drive from my house in Flintville. Yesterday, I got here at 9 a.m. and left at midnight. At my age that takes a toll on you.”

Looking back three decades, “I bought this property from Mary Miller,” Mitchell said. “I have sold this property, storage units and rink alike. The skating rink will no longer be open. I’ve been telling everybody that they can come to Fayetteville to skate. I sold it to a family out of Franklin, Tenn., a Christian family, and I was proud for a family like that to get it, for Lewisburg,” Mitchell said.

Russell “Rusty” Varenkamp will purchase the 3.4-acre storage and skating facility this Friday for $750,000. “Right now, the plan is to convert the rink to climate controlled storage,” Varenkamp said. “It would be the first indoor and outdoor climate-controlled storage facility” in the county. “We are putting a lot of money into it. We are putting in new roofs, a gate with automatic key pads, a kiosk with a key pad. It will be the only facility you can rent from 24 hours per day, or rent online.”

Presently, the skating rink has five part-time employees. “I think a couple of them are going to come to Fayetteville and work for me,” Mitchell said.

The last day that the skating rink will be open is April 1, 2017, until midnight.