China, Japan and Korea have already hopped on the scooter trend, and the owners of New Age Scooters think Nelson will be next.
“Already in Vancouver, Kelowna, Kamloops and Calgary it’s very popular. You see them all over the place, and every summer you’ll see more and more of them,” said Kathy Hartley.
Hartley and her husband Peter Gallant, the other owner, moved from Calgary three years ago with their 15-year-old son.
“We had property in the Slocan Valley for three years. We fell in love with the Slocan Valley and the Kootenay area. Plus we’re avid kayakers, so there’s really no better place to live,” said Hartley.
“Calgary was just getting too big,” said Gallant. “Nelson has its own problems but in comparison they’re minor. We don’t have the drive-by shootings here, we don’t have the muggings, we don’t have a lot of the problems that the large cities do. Once Calgary got to the one million population it changed drastically.”
Gallant had been looking at job opportunities in Nelson for some time and realized that unless you come to town with a job, the city doesn’t have a lot to offer.
“I’ve had various different jobs. I’ve worked in the office furniture industry for about four years, and I was a forklift operator for various companies,” he said. “A lot of the work that I’ve done has involved driving; I enjoy driving. The work that I enjoy the most is work with my hands. If it has to do with electronics or engines, I’m right into it.”
With the idea of starting their own business, Gallant and Hartley began looking at what niche they could fill in Nelson.
“I love motorcycles and anything related to motorcycles. It’s something that this town doesn’t really have a good variety of. There are other companies that sell scooters but not one that does it specifically. I wanted to get into something that would fill a niche in this town,” said Gallant.
Knowing that the geography of the city could be a challenge for scooters, he began doing his research, looking at possible scooter manufacturers.
“I specifically asked the supplier of my electric scooters for the best ones that they have and to think of San Francisco. Vancouver or Saskatchewan is not our kind of terrain. I need ones that can go up and down the hills of San Francisco, and if they can do that well, then they would suit our city,” he said.
New Age Scooters also provides winter storage for scooters and motorcycles, as well as service for scooters, something they feel other scooter suppliers aren’t offering.
Gallant and Hartley were also looking at providing a range of models that would satisfy the varying needs of their customers.
“Demographically we’re an ageing population, and there’s going to be a stage in most people’s lives where they can’t drive a car anymore. They either lose their licence or they simply aren’t comfortable doing it. We saw a need for an alternative for elderly people,” she said.
For Hartley, who has primarily focused on arts and working with arts organizations, it was the ecological aspect of the scooter business that appealed to her.
“Motorcycles and cars have always been Peter’s thing; I have no experience with motorcycles at all. But I am involved because I believe in it so much. Anything automotive was alien to me, but this is just so the direction I believe we need to go in as a society,” she said.
For more information on New Age Scooters visit their website at newage scooters.wordpress.com or visit their shop at 721F Front Street. in Nelson.