Why no Chicago Vespa Dealer?

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):

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

4 thoughts on “Why no Chicago Vespa Dealer?”

  1. BB
    If you ever wanted a MBA (and who doesn’t), I think you’ve found a perfect case study.

  2. Now that Mr. Timoni sent Sam his official, registered termination letter and the Illinois-mandated “grievance period” had passed, my attorney-imposed gag order is over. Everyone had speculated and now the truth can be told! Sam only wants to sell Benzes and Porsches to doctors. The Vespa of Chicago point was one he was trying to sell for a couple years. The guy who bought the VW store from the bankruptcy ended up with a lot less than he bargained for. Originally Alex and Jim were interested in the V/P and pre-approved Moto Guzzi dealers, but Sam kept trying to stick them with the 5-year old bill from marbling the Diversey boutique. They already had hard feelings with so many fixtures including lampposts and lot lights repossessed just before they acquired the store. Much more to tell in near future. D-Kay

  3. Now when visiting PiaagioUSA.com or VespaUSA.com and locating an Illinois dealer, Old Towne, Motoplex South Chicago and Motoplex Joliet are listed. All of the extra efforts which I had made (and am still waiting to get paid for) were only natural for PUSA to put me in touch with their new dealer While the delay in Sam picking up his letter of termination and that stroke, Ron Barnard (his lawyer) too busy hassling me, the Chicago transition weren’t as smooth as should have been. Although I probably won’t recover backpay from Sam, I’ll be happy when I hear he’s behind bars playing “Bubba’s Bitch” At the last WSAG bankruptcy hearing, Sam was well-tanned and dodged every question with absolutely no tact. More to come.

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