Wednesday, November 29, 2006

This is what I made my kids last year for Christmas. It has a 250 watt electric motor and two 10 amp hour batteries. It goes about as fast as I can jog, and has working lights. It's been sitting in our garage for several months now. Unused.

I don't know what to do this year. I want to make something really cool, but I think they're too little to appreciate the kind of things I can make. The other day an elderly woman whose wheelchair I fixed gave them some toys: plastic dinosaurs for Rxxxx, matchbox cars for Dxxxx, and a stuffed toy kitten for Exxxx. Dxxxx said it was the best day of his life. I make the kid a motor vehicle, and a five-pack of matchbox cars trumps it.

Maybe when they get a little older they'll be more interested in the things that interest me. On the other hand maybe they'll just want to watch football on TV all day. Or worse, they might get into Harleys and wear Orange County Choppers T-shirts. Blasphemy!

In my opinion, Harleys are one step above a Rube Goldberg contraption on the scale of engineering sophistication. Today I went to Borders and thumbed through a book on John Deere tractors. They used the same engine configuration for something like 50 years, and still they are more innovative than Harley Davidson. Harley engines are the same low-revving v-twins of motorcycle antiquity, coupled with inadequate brakes and styling so hackneyed that it has become a caricature of itself. But they've used that to their advantage, somehow moving out of the trailer parks and into the garages of lawyers and investment bankers. Case in point: At Thanksgiving dinner my wifes cousin (a graduate of BYU law school) was going on and on about his adventures on Harleys and how great it was to feel the open road. Turns out he rents them on weekends and goes cruising. When he left he put on a leather jacket with the Harley logo emblazoned across the back. I couldn't help but chuckle as I said, "Gary, when are you gonna get a bike to go with the jacket?" I hope he didn't think I was laughing at him, because I most definitely was. I didn't tell him about all the Harley guys that come to the store wanting to rent scooters to take the motorcycle license test. A few weeks ago a guy came in who had actually crashed his Harley while taking the test. They manuever like a freight train. They also brake like freight trains, and are as loud as freight trains. Maybe if I was profoundly deaf, and only needed to go in a straight line without ever stopping, a Harley might be a tolerable motorcycle. Then again a two-wheeled Suburban with straight pipes would weigh less, cost less, and serve the same purpose. But the guys buying Harleys are buying a status symbol, they don't care how they handle, most probably don't know better.

I'm going to stop that tangent now, and go off on another one. Today our helmet rep. stopped by and we talked a bit. He told me that there is a guy in Boise selling Tank brand scooters. For those of you who don't know, Tank=Stank. They are some of the worst scooters "on the road", or maybe I should say "off the road laying in a pool of their own petroleum based excrement." I guess the guy in Boise is doing so well he's going to open three more stores. He's got bankers calling him begging him to borrow their money. He buys the scooters for about $600 and sells them for $1800. Sweet deal.

When will people learn? It's not all about margins. If you sell a piece of crap, you'll wind up stepping in it sooner or later. How many so-called scooter shops have come and gone in the past four years in Utah county? How many used car dealers were selling scooters over the summer and got wise when the scooters started falling apart?

The Scooter Lounge has been in business for four years now. It hasn't been easy. It's hard to compete with low-priced junk. It's hard to stick to principles and good brands with narrow margins when you see these other tools laughing all the way to the bank, and abandoning their customers when the going gets tough.

But you know what? It's worth it. I'm proud of the business I run. I know there's always room for improvement, but I enjoy what I do and I'm proud to wear my Scooter Lounge work shirts each day.

This time of year it's tougher because we don't sell many scooters in the cold season. It's a time to reflect on the year and think of ways to do better next year. I want to thank all of our customers over the years. Many of you are more than customers, you are my friends. I sincerely thank you for supporting our business.

I've often said that I've got no business running a business. I never finished my degree, and even if I had, it would have been in English. I went into business because I didn't know enough about it to know better. In spite of me, the store has been successful. That's because of the good people who have supported us. Thank you.

One of these days I'm going to make up a batch of t-shirts and other Scooter Lounge paraphernalia. If any of you are interested in wearing the company logo I'll make sure you get one. Just let me know.


Marty said...

I wear whatever you got buddy. I will have your love child if that will help business! Don't repeat that to anyone I know.

Great store, great people!


AzĂșcar said...

I would wear gear. Especially something like a beanie/hat. Have you thought about kid shirts too?

I can't believe you made those scooters for your kids. I remember my parents making amazing things for us. All we wanted were Barbies, my Little Ponies, and Transformers. Ungrateful little...
But now I look back and am so appreciative of those gifts. They're treasures now.

As for the quality thing: Don't people realize that price isn't everything--especially when it comes to mechanical things? I'd love to get a scooter from you some day--especially so I could go riding with Tiffany :)

Congrats on four years in operations, that's a milestone.

tiff-fay-fay said...

I would be down with paraphernalia, but please order chick shirts too .. i'm tired of just getting a man shirt that looks ridiculous on me :)

i love our scooter, and i love that even though we don't get to see you too much, i really think of you as a kind-hearted friend.

happy holidays.

AzĂșcar said...

See, I'm with Tiff! I would wear a chick shirt, but I have a closet full of stupid swag designed for a guy.

socali71 said...

I wear Harley shirts, built for a guy, once in a while. I wear Harley boots now and then, built for a chick. Harley to me was Marlon Brando, Elvis, and that whole 50's thing. Then through the 70's and 80's it was the mystique of Cook's Corner, in So. Cal. where the Hell's Angels hung out. we thought, Cool!! my parents thought, Hell No!! But regardless of what has become- it remains an American icon. no matter how warped the dream, or how many "RUB'S" Rich Urban Bikers, tweak the once bad-ass image, or wear the garb like Halloween costumes. I can sit on a "bitch" pad as good as anyone else. But now the "B" has a scooter of her own now and I can be authentic "scooter trash".

But I'm riding naked, 'cept for the boots and a helmet (safety first). So D. when you get those shirts made- can you fed-ex one over to Md? I'm cold.

~j. said...

I'd wear stuff. Cheers to you and your business. When I think of Scooters, your business is the first place I think of, even before I was linked to you through blogs. I'd like very much to get a scooter for my husband. Some day. I've even been listening to a radio station that I loathe so that I might win one. (mmhm, sure).