Several people have sent us the Denver Post story about Sportique’s financial woes. That’s certainly a sad story worth reading, and proof that even the best scooter dealers are in big trouble right now. Sportique’s been around for twelve years and certainly has a reputation equalled by only a handful of shops, so if they’re in trouble, we’re all in trouble.
A lot of fly-by-night scooter shops (and a few good ones) have already closed down, and many more will close in the next few months. This attrition of dealers is actually a good thing in one way: we’ll finally see fewer strip-mall dealers selling questionable or illegal bikes with virtually no aftersales support. Dealers that survive are the ones that know their stuff and love scooters. Anyone who’s been involved in scootering for more than a few years knows the market is brutally cyclical, but scooterists in the know hoped to see these “good guys” — great shops run by true scooter fanatics — survive. These shops aren’t bandwagon jumpers, they knew what they were getting into. They realize that a hemorrhage of sales can be replaced with chirping crickets in a matter of months. A few shops have been around since the eighties and have already been through the cycle. But even with vision and responsible planning, the triple whammy of the global recession, the end of a scooter-sales boom, AND the winter lull is proving too much to endure.
So this is a call to arms: if you like your local dealer, they need your support now more than ever. It just plain sucks to be a scooter dealer right now. So if you’ve been considering a new bike, or a performance upgrade, or a new jacket or helmet, or a rebuild, now’s the time to do it, and it’s more critical than ever to buy local and support the people that have supported you. Your dealer’s prices might be a bit higher than online or catalog prices, but they’ve worked hard for your business and chances are, they’re up against a wall. Your dealer needs you. Fewer dealers and fewer sales means fewer new scooter models being imported and fewer new scooterists, and reduced parts and accessories availabilty. If your local dealer closes, you may be stuck driving to the nearest big city (or the bigger city past that) for service and accessories. If importers start shutting down, you’re going to need to learn foreign languages to find parts.
If you’re new to scootering, 2008 was as big as it gets, but the lean years are great, too. A smaller scene separates the real life-long scooterists from the trendies, creates tighter bonds between scooterists, and paves the way for the next ‘boom.’ We’re going to lose some dealers, it’s a fact, but we MUST keep the best dealers going. With just a little boost from customers to survive these worst-case-scenario next few months, the best shops will eventually thrive, even through the lean years ahead.