Look out! Look out for that kid on . . . roller skates? Despite the fact that in-line skates appeared to all but run over their popularity not so long ago, roller skates are back in vogue. They're pulling a Travolta, if you will.
"I think 1998 is going to be a very strong year for conventional skating," says Jim Ball, 44, president and owner of the South Gate, California, roller-skate manufacturer Sure-Grip International. "It's kind of becoming a cool thing to do."
Ball has plenty of reasons to be optimistic: Sales of conventional skates at Sure-Grip were up 20 percent last year and are expected to increase 25 percent this year. What's more, attendance at roller rinks throughout the country is reportedly up. Throw in a disco ball and a few Donna Summer tunes, and it's the 1970s all over again.
But Ball, who recently supplied skates for a fashion show, says retro appeal isn't the only force propelling roller-skate sales. There's a comfort level and a safety level that in-line skates can't match. Surmises Ball, "Conventional skating is something kids from 1 to 92 can do." And, hey--it's fun.
A portrait of the changing American family.
Make room for daddies--of the single variety, that is. Although single mothers are still much more the norm--and likely to remain so--that doesn't mean all is status quo under American roofs. Rather, in a move that's bound to spark interest in a revival of television's "Courtship of Eddie's Father" (please!) or even the more recent "My Two Dads" (please, no!), single fathers are becoming more prevalent. Dare we suggest these father figures add up to a trend of some import?
We dare. As calculated by the U.S. Census Bureau, families headed by single fathers have mushroomed from 1 percent to 5 percent since 1970. Again, the numbers may not speak volumes--single, child-rearing daddies are still not quite 2 million strong--but their rate of growth is more than enough to warrant attention from market-savvy businesses.
And, oh yes, there's a certain cache to be considered. Either as a result of the changing demographic makeup of the American family--or, ahem, the lack of originality in Hollywood--there's no shortage of single dads in TV land. From "The Gregory Hines Show" to "The Tom Show" to "The Nanny," there's an abundance of solo fathers who knowingly (or otherwise) do their best. Our best advice? Don't tune out this market.
The Grecian Formula
It's no myth: Greek food is hot, hot, hot.
Perhaps the Greek shall inherit the Earth--or at least its culinary spotlight. A surprising number of folks are opting for Greek cuisine on nights when a burger and fries just won't do.
"Years ago, people were afraid to go to a Greek restaurant--they didn't know what it was like," says Tim Vlahopoulos, general manager of the New York City Greek restaurant Periyali. "Now, [Greek restaurants] have proven they're up to the scale of French or Italian restaurants."
Will small-town USA embrace the food with the same gusto as big cities like New York? Vlahopoulos is confident of the food's appeal. "Eventually," he says, "it will spread all over."
Pass the ouzo.
Sure-Grip International, 5519 Rawlings St., South Gate, CA 90280, (562) 923-0724