November 27th is Small Business Saturday, and all month long we’re shining a spotlight on the small businesses within the mall! Meet our local tenants and get to know more about the small shops here at Hampshire Mall!
Meet Bill and Tanya Hoefler, the owners of Interskate91 and LaserBlast.
Q: Where are you from?
A: We met in Kansas, moved here from Georgia, and live in South Hadley. We actually met at a skating rink in October of 1985. I (Bill) was working there and asked Tanya out and the rest is history.
Q: How long have you been in business?
A: Interskate has been here for 41 years, and we’ve had the business for over 21 years, since March of 2020. In 1999 we became aware that it was for sale and decided to buy it from the owner (who owned both Interskate91 North and South and decided he didn’t want to run two facilities) and save it from closing. Our new LaserBlast facility (that replaced the previous laser tag Laser Storm) opened in January 2019.
Q: Tell us a little more about Interskate91.
A: It’s a labor of love for us. We both have a history of skating, grew up skating and chose to make it our career. It’s many businesses in one, with roller skating, an arcade, laser tag, snack bar and skate sales. We do a number of private events including birthday parties, school groups, camps, and more. As with anything, it has it’s challenges, but as they say if you like what you do, it doesn’t feel like work. It’s fun. Tanya: My favorite part of it all is teaching the little kids to skate.
Q: What is unique about your business?
A: What isn’t unique about our business? We’re a roller skating rink on the second floor of a shopping mall, there’s nothing else like this in the area. We have a great, eclectic mix of guests, being sandwiched between Northampton and Amherst, and many regulars. We’ve had a lot of employees that have stayed with us a long time, all throughout their high school and college careers.
Q: What is your favorite song to skate to?
A: Tanya: “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin'” by Michael Jackson.
Bill: “Bounce, Rock, Skate” by Vaughn Mason and Crew.
Q: What does your business do to help the local community?
A: We do a number of fundraisers and special sessions at skating events, we like to do what we can. Our most recent fundraiser was just this past week, Soap and Socks to benefit the Springfield Rescue Mission. Through the years we’ve supported Knights of Columbus, American Heart Association, fundraisers for breast cancer, autism, local schools and clubs, and scout programs. And we’ll be hosting Margarita Madness with the Amherst Area Chamber of Commerce again next year. If you live and are a part of the community, it’s important to be engaged in that community.
Q: What is your one piece of business advice for someone just starting out?
A: Don’t approach a business venture seeking only money and status, you won’t nearly succeed as much. You should do it because you love it and think it’s a good idea.