For Scooter-Only Shops like Bob Hedstrom's Minneapolis-based Scooterville, sourcing parts and accessories for the newer breed of scoots has always been something of a scavenger hunt.
While factory-direct parts for such brands as KYMCO and Genuine Scooter Co. are a phone call away, getting the bits and pieces for some of the other marques involved scouring multiple catalogs from multiple vendors. And then, it was often a matter of making sure the parts fit. Hedstrom says pickings are slim, especially for quality parts for import scooters, and often he found that his service department was performing R&D on the products he did run across.
The folks at Scooterworks are hoping to change all this with Scooterworks Direct, a new direct-to-dealer catalog of parts and accessories aimed squarely at the scooter market. "Scooterworks has always been known for vintage Vespa parts, but the market has really changed with all the modern bikes that need accessories as well," says Sean Cummings, director of sales for Scooterworks. "What we've done with Scooterworks Direct is basically created a Parts Unlimited or a Tucker Rocky for the scooter world."
The affiliate of Genuine Scooter Co. has released a 160-page, full-color catalog featuring about 5,000 parts divided among new and vintage scooters. The book only lists retail pricing so it can be placed on the parts counter for customers to view. Initially, the catalog will only list parts for scooters from Genuine, Honda, KYMCO, Piaggio, Vespa, and Yamaha, but Cummings says that more parts will be added every year.
In surveying dealers to gauge demand, the company found many shops needed parts to service the myriad import scooters based on the GY6 platform. For this niche, there is a line called Chinese Take-off Parts, which features inexpensive, replacement parts needed to get a customer's bike back on the road.
Given the degrees of quality for many of the Chinese scooters, and the fact that many bikes of the same model year were assembled with different parts, Cummings says Scooterworks hesitated to get involved. "We didn't want to get into the Chinese market, but because all the dealers were asking for parts and saying, 'We hate turning all these people away who bought this stuff.' The consumer shouldn't be banged for making a bad choice. You still want to help the guy because maybe the next time you can turn him onto a good product.
"This should help the majority of the shops get a majority of their customers back on the road," Cummings adds. "We're trying to help them turn those customers into a scooter-purchasing customer."
For the name-brand bikes, Scooterworks has created its own private label brand called Prima. The company designed and manufactured each part from the ground up and worked with manufacturers around to world to make everything from light bulbs to windshields to exhausts. The company also partnered with NCY in Taiwan to make a line of high-end performance products for modern scooters. All of the product is distributed out of Chicago.
Cummings, who previously worked at automotive mail-order giant J.C. Whitney, says that when he first started working at Scooterworks almost all of its products were shipped out in plain white boxes or plastic bags — not exactly attractive merchandising. With Scooterworks Direct nearly all the new products come 1) in a four-color shelfable box that lists selling points and shows pictures of the products in use, 2) in a clamshell package or 3) as a J-hook hangable item. The company will continue to work on making its parts more shelf-friendly, Cummings adds.
Scooterville's Hedstrom says he's excited about the prospect of having a vendor that, more or less, has everything he might need. As a longtime customer of Scooterwork's vintage line, he believes the company is well-positioned to take on the new scooter market.
"Just having a catalog that, in theory, has pretty much everything you might need, saves a lot of chasing around," Hedstrom says.