Chase your Dream: The Naperville Scooter Store

Discussion in 'Battle Scooters' started by KennyT, Oct 20, 2012.

  1. KennyT

    KennyT Adventurer

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    I recently purchased my first scooter, a low mileage 2009 Kymco Agility 125...
    [​IMG]-My 2009 Kymco Agility 125 posing for a picture outside of my office...
    I bought the bike looking for a cheap form of transportation. As a Naperville real estate agent, a fair amount of my driving I do alone, either meeting clients at showings or running errands that are a necessary part of the business.
    I was spending a lot of time at gas stations, too, and at $4 per gallon, I found the cost of gas fairly painful...
    I knew that scooters were relatively reasonable to purchase, and that they got great mileage, but I had no idea how much I would love my scooter!
    Honestly, I have owned several high end vehicles, and none of them put a smile on my face like my Kymco. I share that joy with anyone that is interested...
    About 3 weeks ago, I started a business page on Facebook, Naperville Scooter, looking to build a little community of local riders with similar passion. As of today, the page has 24 fans and is progressing nicely. I use the page to post pictures, reviews, good deals I find, and pretty much anything else scooter related...
    The other day, a young woman called me asking if I (Naperville Scooter) sold Vespas, a popular brand of scooter. She had seen me post as Naperville Scooter, liked my profile picture (a red Vespa), and wanted to buy one.
    We talked for about 15 minutes. I explained to her that scooters were a hobby for me, not yet a business. I enjoyed sharing the information I had regarding bikes, brands, and riding. I encouraged her to call back if she had any more questions, and I expect her to buy a scooter soon.
    I love reading about these bikes, taking pictures of them, talking about them, riding them, and I know I can sell them..
    My dream? To open Naperville Scooter, a retailer specializing in scooters and scooter products, right in the heart of Downtown Naperville...
    The nearest stores that offer a decent selection of bikes are 30-40 miles from Naperville. Too far for me and other local enthusiasts.
    I figure, "Why not me?" Without even trying and without advertising, I had a customer call looking to buy a bike. In a tough economy, there certainly is demand for low cost, enviromentally friendly transportation, and boy are they fun to ride...
    Naperville also has great demographics for both small business and scooters, and would be an awesome town to open such a business.
    With a population of nearly 150,000 spread over 35 square miles, Naperville is made up of subdivisions that are a short ride from it's centrally located downtown. The downtown is buzzing with stores, restaurants, and nightlife. Perfect for shopping, dining, people watching, or just walking along the River Walk...
    [​IMG]-The Naperville River Walk on a beautiful fall day...
    Naperville is also built along the Burlington Northern train tracks, which makes it convenient for commuters to Chicago. However, the train station near downtown has a 10 year waiting list for car parking. There is no wait list for motorcylce/scooter parking. It is free, no permit required, and spots are available...
    [​IMG]-Scooters and motorcycles parked at the Naperville Train Station
    Just east of downtown lies North Central College. North Central is a private Division III university with an enrollment of just over 3000, many of which commute from nearby towns. Commuting college kids love scooters...
    Finally, Naperville is a fairly affluent town, with a median household income of $101,894. Perfect for starting a small business...
    I have even selected a potential site for my business. Located on the Washington Avenue, the main street through downtown, is a dilapidated building, boarded up and covered with weeds. This building is an eyesore, and certainly doesn't belong in Napeville's otherwise beautiful downtown...
    [​IMG]-420 Washington Street, Naperville IL 60540
    The building backs to the beautiful DuPage River, and is currently for sale (a short sale). I believe the city would offer some generous incentives for a small business like mine who wanted to improve the property.
    I would like to buy this property, either rehabbing the building or knocking down and starting fresh. Large glass windows, filled with lights and beautiful shiny scooters would tempt those driving by. The property is even zoned for a 3 story building, so I could rent out space in the back or above my store to other businesses.
    Yes, there are several obstacles between me and Naperville Scooter. However, I prefer to focus on the finish line, not the hurdles.
    Why not me?​
    Chase your dreams.
    Ken
    Have fun and enjoy the ride!
    #1
  2. jesionowski

    jesionowski Chicagoland Burgman

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    That building was at one time Naperville cyclery. I bought a Lotus ten speed there about 30 years ago. Still have the bike in the garage. I have a 2008 Kymco agility 125, 9000k on it, no problems.

    Good luck on the shop. DGY Downers Grove Yamaha would be you closet competition.If you offer a tire changing service that could be a good thing.
    #2
  3. InlineSkate

    InlineSkate Adventurer

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    Have you considered maybe opening a dealer under a brand that sells more than just scooters? Perhaps Honda or Yamaha?

    Just as a way to diversify if scooters fall flat than at least you have other vehicles to float sales. Especially being in a snow belt state like Illinois. Where scooters are out and snowmobiles are in during the winter months.
    #3
  4. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Congratulations on discovering what many of us have; that small scooters are not just economical, they are a blast to ride:ricky:wings:ricky:rayof:p3rry
    #4
  5. vtwin

    vtwin Air cooled runnin' mon

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    Good luck to you!
    #5
  6. KennyT

    KennyT Adventurer

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    Hi Vtwin, Klaviator, Inlineskate, jesionowski. Thanks!
    That building has a storied past, but it sure is ugly right now!
    Good ideas on diversity. Lots of work to do between now and then...
    I need to work on buying the building!
    Thanks again,
    Ken
    #6
  7. DandyDoug

    DandyDoug Been here awhile

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    Takes a boat load of courage to open any business, trying it with scooters is probably going to be a tough road , but if you have the passion and the staying power my hat is off to you.
    Good luck on the adventure, hope you can make a go of it.
    Doug
    #7
  8. cdwise

    cdwise Long timer

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    Houston's best known scooter dealer is Scootersmith. Started by Steve Smith in large part to help pay for his motorcycle racing hobby. He started with scooters as "track bikes" and has expanded twice since he opened around 2005. Other dealerships in Houston have failed. I think Steve has succeeded because he truly enjoys what he does, he also services a wide variety of scooters not just those brands he sells. He carries several different brands from Genuine to carefully researched Indian and Chinese scoots where the primary market is college students looking for cheap reliable transportation. Another dealership that has been around at least as long is Apollo but their reputation isn't as good as Scootersmith in the Houston community. Neither have more than the occasional motorcycle taken as a trade in. Apollo is a Kymco, Sym (at least before their US pullout not sure if they still are) and

    Before you jump into your dream I'd suggest chatting with successful scooter dealers, particularly those that aren't Honda/Yamaha/Suzuki dealerships.
    #8
  9. KennyT

    KennyT Adventurer

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    Hi Dandy and CD. Thanks for stopping in...
    Oh lots of work to do (financing) before I jump in. But thought I would start the conversation early...
    Thanks again!
    Ken
    #9
  10. Bronco638

    Bronco638 Nobody Home

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    My wife runs her own business and just celebrated her tenth year as a small business owner. She has a financial background and is a CPA. If you have questions or would like to pick her brain, let me know. I'm sure she would be happy to chat with you but you'll have to ride "up here" to see her. :lol3
    #10
  11. Motovista

    Motovista Parts is Parts

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    Kenny,

    A lot of things affect scooter sales and service. If gas drops fifty cents, your sales will go south for a while.
    One thing that kills off dealers when things go south is flooring. Most of the major companies will want you to open a flooring account with GE or another company. Then they will bury you with inventory, and when things go south the interest payments start on unsold units.
    We passed on one of the most popular brands around because they offered better prices if we let them put inventory on flooring than if we paid cash for ten units at a time, and we own all our units, so this made no sense to us. If you don't have anything on flooring, you tend to sleep better when the market softens, and if you do have a flooring account, the manufacturer will often make you take units you thought you would want a year ago, even as the market tanks.
    You will find that ordering what you like is a way to miss out on a lot of sales, and ordering one of every color is not as good as ordering deep of the two or three best selling colors.
    Look for companies that offer warranties that cover both parts and labor. The cheaper stuff doesn't, and there's a reason for that. When you find a brand you are interested in, call a couple of dealers and ask how the company is about warranty claims and parts fulfillment.
    Plan on six good months every year, and then going stark raving mad as winter sets in.
    #11
  12. KennyT

    KennyT Adventurer

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    Hi Moped and Bronco. Thanks! Great tips and I may chat with your wife, Bronco...
    I continue to pursue this. Looked into Genuine, but they only want seasoned dealers...
    Perhaps Lance and Kymco? I own a Kymco, and love it. Two year warranty, too...
    Thoughts on either of these brands? Love the look of the Lance Cali...
    Thanks again everyone!
    Ken
    #12
  13. redhandmoto

    redhandmoto Been here awhile

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    This.
    Moped Medic is absolutely correct. The pitfalls of floorplanning contracts and compulsary inventory almost can't be overstated.
    #13
  14. vtwin

    vtwin Air cooled runnin' mon

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    Take a look at Sym along with Kymco. Sym is making motorcycles in the 150cc size. Good step up for scooterist to move up to. An inmate named Dabinche rode a Sym to Alaska and back. Kymco seems one of the better brands coming from the far east. I understand the Italian brands are not as helpful in the warranty department.
    #14
  15. redhandmoto

    redhandmoto Been here awhile

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    Don't know about warranties, but on the support, parts, infrastructure side of things, the Piaggio hegemony blows goats - for all their marques in the US market, which Piaggio, frankly, doesn't really give a crap about.
    #15
  16. KennyT

    KennyT Adventurer

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    Hi red hand and vtwin. Thanks!
    I have heard good things about Sym.
    Genuine is out, but lots of good brands to think about...
    Thanks again!
    Ken
    #16
  17. Bronco638

    Bronco638 Nobody Home

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    I would second this sentiment. I thought Sym started out as a Honda "out-sourcer" (for lack of a better term). I read a RR of a couple, from Seattle, that rode 'up' Africa, over to India and then the Far East after riding cross-country (from Seattle to NC). They were on Sym Symbas which is a Honda knock-off (IIRC). They sure seem to make a quality product.
    #17
  18. Warney

    Warney Been here awhile

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    Q: How do you turn a large fortune into a small fortune?
    A: Open a Scooter or Motorcycle shop.
    In order to reach the volume to succeed there are a number of steep obstacles to overcome.
    Sales would be secondary to parts, accessories, and service.
    The initial investment would be somewhere in the multiple six figures, difficult to sell your way out of that.
    If someone had the desire and multiple six figures to invest, there are easier and less risky ways to make money.
    There are a host of failed dealers to study before you take the plunge.
    #18
  19. vtwin

    vtwin Air cooled runnin' mon

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    I believe that Honda did outsource to Sym for the Passport in the later years. That in itself is testimony to them that Honda would put their name on it. I second the opinion that parts and service it very important in bringing in the cash flow to float the business. I used to work at a dealership and when times were lean on sales, parts and service supported the dealership. I do wish you luck.
    #19
  20. vtwin

    vtwin Air cooled runnin' mon

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    I forgot to mention that an inmate just opened a motorcycle store not too long ago. You may want to do a search and ask him for any hints on what to avoid. I think it was in either garage or shiny things.
    #20