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Say farewell to Skate Country in Gainesville after 40 years of operating
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Skaters enjoy the Skate Country roller rink Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, at the Thompson Bridge Road location in Gainesville. After more than 40 years of operation at the site the longtime rink will be closing. - photo by Scott Rogers

After four decades of hosting birthday parties and skate nights, Skate Country in Gainesville is closing its doors a final time.

Skate Country opened in 1980 on Thompson Bridge Road as the premier spot for young teenagers to skate, hang out and have fun.

“I started going to Skate Country in the early 1980s with my elementary school and I enjoyed it so much that I started going every Friday and Saturday night and most Sunday afternoons,” Gainesville resident Andrea Davis Cooper said . “My friends and I basically lived there for that entire decade.”

Kevin Elrod grew up in Gainesville attending Gainesville City Schools and later North Hall High School, and he remembers weekend nights spent skating at Skate Country.

Skate Country

What: A farewell skate session for the closing of Skate Country

When: 7 p.m. Oct. 23

Where: 2276 Thompson Bridge Road, Gainesville 

“There are so many memories, from all the night skates where we spent the night there to speed skating, dating and just the overall friendships that were built there over the years that are still friendships to this day,” he said. 

As a farewell to Skate Country, Elrod and Cooper will be hosting a skate night for the community to come together and skate at the Gainesville location one last time. The event will start at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 23. 

Owners Jim and Susan Means said they decided to close down the Gainesville location to focus on the Skate Country in Buford as the couple settles into retirement.

“Well, I’m older and I’m ready to not work as much,” Jim Means said. “Just ready to move on and do something else. It’s been good.”

Along with that, Means mentioned competition they’ve felt from other activities over the years affecting their business. 

The property is being sold, and Means said it will be remodeled and turned into a new business office and headquarters for Milton Robson.

Susan Means said she encourages all skaters to continue to join them at the Buford location and keep making memories with them there.

“We’re skating grandchildren of our first skaters, and that’s awesome,” Susan Means said. “Pretty much, we have made so many wonderful friends, and that’s the big thing.” 

Rusty Evans said he used to work at the Gainesville location when he was a teenager and remembers it as a fun and safe place for children and adults.

“The closing is bittersweet but I am happy for the Means and hope they can slow down and play more golf,” he said. 

The last day of operation will be Sunday, Oct. 24, and the Means couple will be there each Saturday until the closing to say bye to those who visit. 

“Skate Country will be missed, and for those of us that grew up there, I will always remember those times and all I shared them with forever,”  Elrod said. “Thank you Jim Means and family for all you have ever done for all of us.”

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