OP
@maxpuzzle avatar
UTC

Hooked
Black Vespa GTS 250cc
Joined: UTC
Posts: 102
Location: New York City
 
Hooked
@maxpuzzle avatar
Black Vespa GTS 250cc
Joined: UTC
Posts: 102
Location: New York City
UTC quote
Quote:
July 09, 2006
By Stuart Luman

Subscribe to an RSS feed on this topic


Scooter-riders face Vesparate times
Chicago scooter market in disarray after city's only Vespa dealer goes under


A modish image and $3-a-gallon gas are pushing sales of Vespa motor scooters to record heights in U.S. cities - but not in Chicago.

With the area's only Vespa dealer in bankruptcy, the Italian manufacturer has stopped shipping new scooters here. Vespa of Chicago is selling what's left of its inventory out of a single location in Lincoln Park.

And while the dealer insists it is still open for sales and service, many Chicagoans are having better luck buying Vespas out of town, from dealerships as far away as Downstate Edwardsville.

Meanwhile, local scooter owners say they don't know where to get their Vespas fixed.

Chris Oles bought his scooter in June 2005 from Vespa of Chicago's parent dealership, West Suburban Imports in Maywood. This month, he called to inquire about a 3,000-mile tune-up, only to learn that the dealership had closed.

"It's like if I bought a Yugo and all of a sudden Yugo went out of business," says Mr. Oles of Chicago, who owns a silver Vespa LX.

The Vespa void stems from the demise of West Suburban Imports, a Volkswagen auto dealer that filed for bankruptcy protection in October, owing $6.3 million to creditors, according to court filings. From January 2001, the company was Chicago's only licensed Vespa dealer, selling the scooters both at its Maywood car lot and from a store at 557 W. Diversey Parkway that also carries Vespa-branded apparel and helmets.

The Lincoln Park boutique is still open, but only to sell out its inventory. It no longer receives scooters from the manufacturer, Piaggio Group.

Ronald Barnard, the lawyer representing Vespa of Chicago owner Sam Tomaino in the bankruptcy proceedings, wouldn't discuss the dealership's future, but admits that "at this point, Vespa is not the busiest place in Chicago."

HELP ON THE WAY?

According to Paolo Timoni, president and CEO of Piaggio Group Americas, which owns Vespa and several other Italian motorcycle brands, the company is now in the process of selecting new Chicago dealerships. Old Towne Motocycle Shoppe on Wells Street expects to be one; last week it received nine demo Vespas from Piaggio.

"The good news is, the process is nearly over," Mr. Timoni says. "In a month, people in Chicago will be able to find our products in established dealerships that have a reputation for customer service."

In the meantime, out-of-town dealers have stepped in to meet demand for the scooters, which cost between $3,199 and $6,199 and boast 70 to 80 miles to the gallon.

Although technically each dealer is required to sell scooters in an area dictated by its dealership contract, Piaggio hasn't been enforcing those restrictions in Chicago. Milwaukee-based Reina International Auto Vespa sends a large truck here three times a week to service, pick up and deliver Vespas. Co-owner Joe Reina says he's discussed opening a local showroom, perhaps near O'Hare, with Piaggio.

And Vernon Carver, owner of Moto Italia in Edwardsville, outside East St. Louis, sends technicians to Chicago to deliver scooters, making up for the fact that his dealership is a more than a four-hour drive from the city - by car.

He claims 30% of his business comes from the Chicago area. "We're just tickled pink about the dealership being in disarray," Mr. Carter says. "We're happy as can be to deliver motor scooters to Chicago."

©2006 by Crain Communications Inc.
@jrsjr avatar
UTC

Molto Verboso
Nazgul
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1985
Location: North Chesterfield, VA
 
Molto Verboso
@jrsjr avatar
Nazgul
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1985
Location: North Chesterfield, VA
UTC quote
Accompanying that article was this pic and caption.

External inline image provided by member with no explanatory text
Chris Oles can't get a tune-up for his Vespa. Photo: Erik Unger

That's a bit of an overstatement, of course. If you read the article, they mention that Chicago Vespa peeps are being serviced by a St. Louis dealer and a new Vespa dealership is coming soon in Chicago. Still, this is the kind of thing that civilians don't like reading about the dealers of their very expensive scooters.

The Subliminal Message? Genuine Scooter Company is headquartered in Chicago. You wouldn't have any trouble getting a Genuine scooter serviced there. :-}
⚠️ Last edited by jrsjr on UTC; edited 1 time
@vesparican avatar
UTC

Hooked
NONE (At this moment)
Joined: UTC
Posts: 275
Location: FL
 
Hooked
@vesparican avatar
NONE (At this moment)
Joined: UTC
Posts: 275
Location: FL
UTC quote
Amigo:

I feel for you. Same thing happened to Vespa Puerto Rico. R.I.P Crying or Very sad emoticon

VESPARICAN 8)
@vanslam avatar
UTC

Addicted
Vespa LX150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 675
Location: East Windsor, New Jersey
 
Addicted
@vanslam avatar
Vespa LX150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 675
Location: East Windsor, New Jersey
UTC quote
My dealer sold out, I was told he was going under, to a honda shop. Lucky me the new shop is coser to my house.

But is this the cycle for Vespa shops? Are Vespa shop owners not making money on these machines. I doubt it.
UTC

Hooked
P200e
Joined: UTC
Posts: 175
Location: Longmont, Co.
 
Hooked
P200e
Joined: UTC
Posts: 175
Location: Longmont, Co.
UTC quote
Apparently the Vespa shop there was connected with and owned by another shop/car dealer that went out of business. Somethime these things can't be helped and do not really raflect the potentual of the Vespa boutique. It seems he owed millions, I doubt the Vespa shop was doing "that" good.
Here in Houston the Vespa shop is in the Ferarii dealership. Just a bit intimatating. you have to walk through the showroom and past the "way too good looking" receptionist then through parts department to enter the boutique.
I think they could do a little better if they cared if they sold any Vespas or not.
Just a similar type story. A friend and I went into a fancy French furniture store here. We were looking at the furniture and talking with the manager. My friend said, cool stuff but a bit pricey. The manager in his best Frendh accent said, Well, they are French, they don't care if you buy it.
I think the Italians are thinking the same way. Not sure how well this actually works here in the US.
Wayne (I know too far off topic.) I was at a party and have had drinks.
@exonicjay avatar
UTC

Addicted
ET4-150 GTS250ie PX200 with Cozy Sidecar
Joined: UTC
Posts: 781
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
 
Addicted
@exonicjay avatar
ET4-150 GTS250ie PX200 with Cozy Sidecar
Joined: UTC
Posts: 781
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
UTC quote
Vespa USA will mostly have more dealer failures.
The margins Vespa offers to the dealers is very low and everyone beats them up for lower prices.
@quasi-moto avatar
UTC

Veni, Vidi, Posti
SawStop
Joined: UTC
Posts: 5391
Location: Puyallup, WA
 
Veni, Vidi, Posti
@quasi-moto avatar
SawStop
Joined: UTC
Posts: 5391
Location: Puyallup, WA
UTC quote
Margins on the Vespa scooters are not excessively large, and most boutiques don't know how to merchandise in order to make profits on merch.

Piaggio seems to be aggressively going after existing motorsport dealers to sell the Vespa brand, because for them the business would be additive. If you check out the newest dealers on the vespausa site, they seem mostly to be bmw bike dealers, and other motorsport dealers.

I would love to see the stronger boutiques thrive, but they'll need to diversify a little into other brands of scooters and merchandising.
@jrsjr avatar
UTC

Molto Verboso
Nazgul
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1985
Location: North Chesterfield, VA
 
Molto Verboso
@jrsjr avatar
Nazgul
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1985
Location: North Chesterfield, VA
UTC quote
vanslam wrote:
But is this the cycle for Vespa shops? Are Vespa shop owners not making money on these machines. I doubt it.
That's a really good question. There are some folks on here who know and I hope they'll weigh in.

Here are a couple of generalities based on what I've observed.

First, Piaggio originally required dealers to put up a lot of money to build those Vespa "boutiques" that so many of us found unnecessary. Piaggio did this in pursuit of a younger market demographic than the demographic of folks who actually ended up buying their scooters, particularly the GT/GTS's. Did somebody at Piaggio really think that USA 20-somethings would be able to afford a $6500 out-the-door scooter? In hindsight, that decision seems so unrealistic. The way I see it, this was a straight-up mistake on Piaggio's part. As I understand it, Piaggio have dropped the boutique requirement. FYI, my dealer yanked his boutique and put the remnants out in a side area when he became a KTM motorcycle dealer.

Second, there's the profit margain on those very expensive scooters. Somebody must be making money on them, but when large dealers in urban areas like Chicago and Santa Monica fail, you have to wonder, don't you? I don't think they could charge much more for their scooters. Vespas are nice, but would you buy one if it cost $1000 more than it already does? I know it's hard to imagine, but I really wonder if Piaggio's pricing is allowing their dealers enough profit margain to make it worthwhile to stay in business. By this I mean, is Piaggio trying to make too high a profit margain on the scooters they sell to their dealers, so high that the dealers can't make enough money to survive?

Third, when unit profit margains are low, the only way the dealer can make money is to sell more scooters. I don't think that line of reasoning works for most Vespa dealerships because I don't think there is enough demand in the USA scooter market, this in times of $3.00/gallon gasoline! Who'd a thunk it?

So, finally, here's my conclusion. Scooter owners, scooters, scooter dealers, scooter parts distribution networks, scooter importers, scooter manufacturers, and scooter designers are sort of like a chain. It only takes one weak link to weaken the enire chain and the whole chain has to be strong for the customer to have a happy scooter experience. The epiphany that I've had recently is that it appears, at least in the USA, that the big weakness in the chain is the link between Piaggio USA and their dealers.
⚠️ Last edited by jrsjr on UTC; edited 1 time
@bryce-o-rama avatar
UTC

Ossessionato
Peugeot Looxor
Joined: UTC
Posts: 3220
Location: KCMO
 
Ossessionato
@bryce-o-rama avatar
Peugeot Looxor
Joined: UTC
Posts: 3220
Location: KCMO
UTC quote
elewayne wrote:
Here in Houston the Vespa shop is in the Ferarii dealership. Just a bit intimatating. you have to walk through the showroom and past the "way too good looking" receptionist then through parts department to enter the boutique.
Been there, it is very, very intimidating. Especially because nobody stopped the likes of me from wandering around. Nobody even seemed to care that I was there.
elewayne wrote:
I think they could do a little better if they cared if they sold any Vespas or not.
When Ferrari and Maserati customers want to buy a car, they don't go to the showroom. They go to lunch with the sales managers. Or so I'm told, not being a Ferrari/Maserati customer.
elewayne wrote:
I think the Italians are thinking the same way. Not sure how well this actually works here in the US.
Not very. Wouldn't surprise me if that was the idea. Only a small segment of Americans respond positively to that kind of thing, though.
UTC

Enthusiast
'04 GT200, Honda CB550-4 cafe conversion project, 1974 Honda SL 70
Joined: UTC
Posts: 66
Location: Alexandria, VA
 
Enthusiast
'04 GT200, Honda CB550-4 cafe conversion project, 1974 Honda SL 70
Joined: UTC
Posts: 66
Location: Alexandria, VA
UTC quote
Hey.....if they're going under I want first dibs on that super secret GT exhaust!
UTC

Hooked
P200e
Joined: UTC
Posts: 175
Location: Longmont, Co.
 
Hooked
P200e
Joined: UTC
Posts: 175
Location: Longmont, Co.
UTC quote
If Vespa is moving away from the stand alone boutique thing I think that would be a good thing. I also think a upscale motorcycle distributer would be the best way to go. If you mix the Vespas with cheap scooters as soon as a customer falters over the pricey nature of the Vespa, it's only human nature, for the salesman to say I have this chinese scooter which is just as dependable and is only half the price. He has to make a sale to eat just like all of us.
For myself, even if Vespa has issues they are still the defination of scooters and you are still buying in on the history and class they represent.
I just think they're cool. It would be nice if they got thier act together a bit more here though.
Wayne, A bit more clear headed today, Evans
@zippityjacks avatar
UTC

Molto Verboso
Thank you Christina -- 2005 ET4 with Flames
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1371
Location: Rivanna, VA
 
Molto Verboso
@zippityjacks avatar
Thank you Christina -- 2005 ET4 with Flames
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1371
Location: Rivanna, VA
UTC quote
"FYI, my dealer yanked his boutique and put the remnants out in a side area when he became a KTM motorcycle dealer."

"The epiphany that I've had recently is that it appears, at least in the USA, that the big weakness in the chain is the link between Piaggio USA and their dealers."


I Know exactly where you are coming from on this. As I am currently waiting for my ET 4 to get back from the same dealer. I do have to say that there has to be something said for the management turnover at this shop. As Dave is the ONLY recagniseable (sp?) person there now......
@vanslam avatar
UTC

Addicted
Vespa LX150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 675
Location: East Windsor, New Jersey
 
Addicted
@vanslam avatar
Vespa LX150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 675
Location: East Windsor, New Jersey
UTC quote
If volume is the issue they should advertise. I haven't seen one add in my area. The only reason I got a Vespa was because of the no interest financing ad run by Vespa last christmas time. Otherwise there has been no other advertisement for the Vespa.

I am guessing that margins are so thin that advertising cost would kill any profit. Catch 22.
@illnoise avatar
UTC

Hooked
Joined: UTC
Posts: 252
 
Hooked
@illnoise avatar
Joined: UTC
Posts: 252
UTC quote
Vespa of Chicago story on 2strokebuzz
Hey, guys, Bryan from 2strokebuzz here...

I'd been following this story for some time on 2sb, and Stuart and I have talked a lot about what's going on. Here's my take, if you're interested:

http://2strokebuzz.com/index.php/?p=3062

Stuart just wrote back to me and said he agreed, there's a lot more to the story and it reflects a national trend, but the magazine was only interested in the local angle, and the surface of the story. I'm really interested in PiaggioUSA, and I wish I had the time to really investigate, research, and talk to a lot of dealers. My sources say that Piaggio and its dealers were basically hemmoraging money until the recent upturn (thanks to gas prices) now they're riding that wave and abandoning their original sales messages (and POSSIBLY making money, but probably not, even). Corporation wise, they've had tons of turnover and mismanagement, even though Piaggio in Italy continues to talk about what an important market we are. This whole Vespa World Club deal is also sort of interesting and possibly frightening. They seem to have really screwed over several dealers in their shift from luxury boutiques-to-motorcycle shops.

I'm on so many lists I can't afford to get hooked on another one, as cool as this list is, but I've been trying to keep an eye on it and will continue to do so. I'd love if you guys would check my site and post a comment there once in a while, or drop me a line if you see something I could post about. I'm not a new Vespa owner, but I've been riding and hoarding old ones for more than ten years, and I'm active in VCOA and I try to keep on top of modern scooter news.

Thanks!
Bryan
@nukie avatar
UTC

Addicted
GTS250 "Atomic Blast", GT200 Blue and White "Alfie", SQREAM Scooter Club
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1004
Location: Denver, CO
 
Addicted
@nukie avatar
GTS250 "Atomic Blast", GT200 Blue and White "Alfie", SQREAM Scooter Club
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1004
Location: Denver, CO
UTC quote
elewayne wrote:
If Vespa is moving away from the stand alone boutique thing I think that would be a good thing. I also think a upscale motorcycle distributer would be the best way to go.
This is the model for our Vespa dealership here in Denver. The shop is called Erico Motorsports. They sell Ducati, Triump, Motoguzzi along with Vespa. They specialize in high end European bikes and it makes a LOT of sense. They can make their profits selling all the bikes, not just the scooters. And if scooters have a bad year (gasp!) they have the motorcycles to fall back on.

This model works very well for them and they are one of the top 10 Vespa dealers in the country. They just opened up a second Vespa location in the western Denver metro area. They just keep growing.

Having all the high end European bikes in one location keeps all the brands elevated and makes them special. And they get a lot of crossover with buyers.
UTC

Hooked
P200e
Joined: UTC
Posts: 175
Location: Longmont, Co.
 
Hooked
P200e
Joined: UTC
Posts: 175
Location: Longmont, Co.
UTC quote
I think i saw that shop last time I was there. It's near my sisters old house in Denver. It was sunday of something and wasn't open right then.
Another good thing about a setup like that is the service is already in place. That seems to be a problem for many shops.

But then, Vespa hardly ever askes for my openion. Too bad. Crying or Very sad emoticon
Wayne
@andrew avatar
UTC

Molto Verboso
2006 Fly 150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1459
Location: Metro Detroit, MI
 
Molto Verboso
@andrew avatar
2006 Fly 150
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1459
Location: Metro Detroit, MI
UTC quote
Same in Detroit (Eastpointe actually), its called "Vespa Detroit" AND "Detroit Eurocycles". They carry Vespa, Piaggio, Bajaj, Aprilia, KTM, Moto Guzzi.
@jrsjr avatar
UTC

Molto Verboso
Nazgul
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1985
Location: North Chesterfield, VA
 
Molto Verboso
@jrsjr avatar
Nazgul
Joined: UTC
Posts: 1985
Location: North Chesterfield, VA
UTC quote
Yep. Vespa Charlottesville has recently become Moto Virginia a KTM/Vespa dealer. I hope it works out for them.
@illnoise avatar
UTC

Hooked
Joined: UTC
Posts: 252
 
Hooked
@illnoise avatar
Joined: UTC
Posts: 252
UTC quote
Nukie wrote:
This is the model for our Vespa dealership here in Denver. The shop is called Erico Motorsports.
Erico is a good dealer, they've done everything right, they know the market and the vehicles, and they've been supportive of the existing scooter scene (For instance they're being very helpful with Amerivespa, which you're ALL going to, right?!).

Vespa of Chicago was the opposite. Sam Tomaino seems like a decent guy, but his staff at VoC was clueless and seemed to be totally unenthusiastic about the product, and their advertising money (assumedly under Vespa's advice) was all in "society" magazines and their sponsorship dollars were put into golf tournaments and regattas and such. I'm exaggerating a bit, but they were definitely targeting the upper crust, and anyone coming in off the street with grease under their fingernails and without a credit card with a $100,000 limit was just shooed away.
DoubleGood Design banner

Modern Vespa is the premier site for modern Vespa and Piaggio scooters. Vespa GTS300, GTS250, GTV, GT200, LX150, LXS, ET4, ET2, MP3, Fuoco, Elettrica and more.

Buy Me A Coffee
 

Shop on Amazon with Modern Vespa

Modern Vespa is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com


All Content Copyright 2005-2024 by Modern Vespa.
All Rights Reserved.


[ Time: 0.0252s ][ Queries: 3 (0.0100s) ][ live ][ 313 ][ ThingOne ]