Stuart Luman of Crain’s Chicago Business explores the “Great Chicago Vespa Dealer Mystery.” 2strokebuzz talked to Stuart on several occasions about the story, to the point of probably creeping him out. The story won’t be surprising to regular 2sb readers, but Crain’s gets big props for coining the word “Vesparate.” Three points that the Crain’s story missed, in our opinion (we’re not bound by the rules of journalism or a capitalist publisher, ha):
- While Vespa of Chicago’s closure was a direct result of the bankruptcy of Sam Tomaino’s West Suburban Auto Group, the story does not address allegations that Tomaino intended to keep the local rights and/or sell them to a new dealer. There seems to still be some dispute over the rights, which is probably why the Olde Town Motocycle Shoppe has not officially been named the new dealer. It’s also unclear whether Piaggio approached the new OTMS/MotoplexUSA or vice versa, or how Dan Kay, the former Sales Manager of Vespa Chicago, now sales manager of OTMS, was involved.
- The story also does not address similar conflicts in other cities where the boutique concept was abandoned and original dealers saw their dealerships taken away, or alternately, were unable to find a buyer because of Piaggio USA’s dealer obligations.
- The story says Vespa of Chicago is still operating through the Diversey Boutique and is not offering service on bikes, though, as 2sb has reported, Tomaino’s Roselle location, while allegedly bare-bones, is servicing bikes, and presumably doing dealer prep for the Diversey shop, which was never a service center.
2sb has no agenda here other than curiousity, and from our conversation with Luman, neither did Crain’s, but we think the more interesting story, from a business perspective, is the failure (in many markets) of PiaggioUSA’s original upscale “boutique” marketing plan, which the current management finally seems to have to abandoned, along with some of their original big-investment dealers. 2sb lacks the sources and the resources to really follow through on this story, but a whole book will be written someday about Piaggio’s return to the US, no matter whether it’s ultimately a failure or a success.