From foot to hitch: Rollerblade brothers keep on rolling
Bloomington, Minnesota’s Olson brothers, (members of the family who introduced us to the illustrious Rollerblade phenomenon in the early 80s), once again have the wheels turning with their latest unveiling of SPACE Trailers: a lightweight, enclosed trailer designed to appeal to outdoor enthusiasts, families downsizing their vehicles or those who just need more space on the road.
Todd and Brennan Olson, whose family started Rollerblade in their family’s basement in the early 80s, have reemerged with a new niche in the trailer category that’s a sign of the times — with great timing.
In 2008, when gas prices were hovering around $4 per gallon, the brothers felt the sting of high gas prices, and both decided to downsize their vehicles. However they needed more room. After searching online and at local trailer outfits for a lightweight enclosed trailer that played nicely with smaller vehicles, they found nothing.
So with gas prices on the rise again, they decided the time was ripe to design their own lightweight enclosed trailer and take it to the next level: One that provides the ability to carry bikes and boats for that vacation but also pick up plywood at Home Depot.
“I have always owned a small trailer using tarps, and have always felt there had to be a better way,” says Todd, who sold Rollerblade skates in Southern California. “I was up north a couple years ago with friends, my 115-pound dog and a Volkswagen Passat. When the trunk wouldn’t close, a light went on in my head. I thought, ‘what does a family of four and a dog do unless they drive a large SUV? Leave the dog or skis behind. No way.’ ”
Brennan’s motivation is a little different: “I hunt and fish, and have packed my SUV full for years. The traditional utility trailers were never really an option. They were all bulky, heavy, and frankly, ugly,” says the designer of numerous skate models for Rollerblade. “When we set out to develop our trailers we realized it had to be functional but it had to look cutting edge. It had to appeal to the hunter driving a Yukon and the family with a Subaru.”
At their facility in Burnsville, Minn., the brothers and staff refer to their versatile product as a “sport trailer” or “the Swiss Army Knife of trailers.” Weighing in at just 450 pounds, the low profile, aerodynamic design has minimal affect on gas mileage — even loaded to its capacity of 1,000 pounds. Take the canopy off to haul larger items like ATV’s, dirt bikes, lumber or a refrigerator (the tie-down hardware and locations are thoughtfully positioned).
After-market accessories include an extended tongue and roof racks to haul bikes, kayaks and canoes. Coming soon is a tent enclosure for camping and ice fishing. For those who don’t have room for a trailer, a storing system is on the way, which allows your trailer to stand on-end, against a wall and out of the way.
Custom wraps, colors and ways to personalize your SPACE Trailer with your style, interests, team logos and more are also in the works. Brennan and Todd both agreed (unlike most siblings) that just like Rollerblade, customers will be able to stand out in the crowd if they want.
Brennan and Todd realize that the hype of the Rollerblade craze is gone, but they know that the spirit for innovation is still in their blood. “Our new customers can take a SPACE Trailer up to the lake, not just skate around it. And there’s plenty of room for a few pair of Rollerblades back there.”