I'm proud to announce that the Wheel-a-ma-jig will now link to Derby 4 All for wheel purchasing information. Replacing the Amazon.com search links with links to a skater-owned, derby-focused skate shop is an important change for me, and I think it's a change for the better.
Now, I have nothing against Amazon; In fact, I'm a pretty effusive fan of how their Amazon Prime service has allowed me to avoid big-box retail stores almost entirely. Amazon has a large selection, great customer service, and free shipping in many cases. What they do, they do very well.
But let's talk about what Amazon doesn't do. Amazon doesn't work with individual skaters to make sure they find boots that fit them perfectly. They don't travel to set up mobile skate shops at tournaments so that skaters around the country can get personal sizing advice. They don't offer clinics and training to new skaters. They don't coach junior derby. They don't (to my knowledge) sponsor any roller derby leagues. They don't focus on growing and nurturing the sport of modern roller derby.
Derby 4 All does all of that and much more. I'm lucky enough to live right down the road from their retail location, so I've seen firsthand how the Derby 4 All Team works to help skaters improve and help the sport grow. Their web store has an excellent selection of wheels, reasonable prices, and knowledgeable and responsive customer service.
I should mention that this move is something of a risk for me. One of the nice features of Amazon's referral program is I could earn a commission on anything a customer purchased after visiting Amazon through a Wheel-a-ma-jig link. With Derby 4 All I won't be earning anything from the sales of books, computer equipment, or toilet paper, because Derby 4 All is focused on derby gear. However, I'm confident that Wheel-a-ma-jig users will agree with me that they'd rather support a business that supports roller derby, even if it means paying a few bucks in shipping costs. Aside from all of the ethical or economic reasons to support independent small businesses, it's simply in our own interests to buy from skater-owned, derby-focused shops: we need shops like Derby 4 All to exist, and they wouldn't exist without our business.
If you were one of the folks who ordered on Amazon through the Wheel-a-ma-jig, I thank you; I've made enough from Amazon commissions to cover the hosting costs for firewally.net. Also, thanks to all of you who've shared the Wheel-a-ma-jig on Twitter, Facebook, and your league's site. If you've used the Wheel-a-ma-jig to find the perfect set of wheels, I hope you'll consider making your purchase through Derby 4 All and supporting this site and an excellent derby shop.