Two new downtown Vancouver electric scooter businesses are providing a new way to safely explore Vancouver during the pandemic.
Electric-scooter rental company and dealer Zoot Scoot, near Esther Short Park, and another dealer, Rev Rides, near Briz Loan & Guitar on Washington Street, are both finding success with a large number of sales this summer.
Jason Adams and his wife, Kristie Means, opened Zoot Scoot in early June at 812 Columbia St. Before opening, he was worried about starting a new business amid the pandemic. But he realized it was an opportunity to bring affordable entertainment to downtown in a time when many sources of entertainment have been shut down.
“At first, I was thinking of putting it on hold because of COVID-19,” Adams said. “But I thought it was a good form of entertainment while still following the social distancing guidelines.”
Zoot Scoot offers fat-tire e-scooter rentals and sales. They’re available to rent for $20 per hour, or $69.99 for the day. The scooters have a 40-mile range, allowing customers to see much of Vancouver. Rentals can be made online at zootscoot.net or over the phone.
Adams specified that the e-scooters should be used in the bike lane only and not on any sidewalks. Helmets are provided by Zoot Scoot and the e-scooters are available for purchase at $1,695 each.
Adams said the response has been amazing, and the community has embraced them. Within the first five weeks of opening, he sold the 50 units he had in stock, and rentals continue to come in.
“I wanted to keep it affordable so people can enjoy it without financial strain, especially in a time like this,” Adams said.
He said several local businesses have come by to show support. His neighbors next door at Doppelganger rented eight scooters for an employee outing this summer.
“This is my hometown. I’m proud to be doing my part in helping our area grow,” Adams said.
Nathan Pust relocated his business REV Rides, which stands for Recreational Electric Vehicles, out of his garage in Salmon Creek to a new downtown location at 500 Washington St., complete with a workshop and showroom.
In October of 2018, Pust began REV Rides after he first got interested in the industry while traveling to Asia and seeing the popularity of electric vehicles there.
“I personally wanted one and I always wanted to start my own business,” Adams said. “I noticed there were hardly any scooter shops in the U.S. and saw there was a market there.”
Nearly two years later, Pust moved REV Rides downtown to sell a wide selection of recreational electric vehicles, including stand-up scooters, dirt bikes and unicycles. They also offer maintenance in the workshop attached to the showroom.
“We’re part of a great community down here, and it’s really helped with our local presence,” Pust said.
Most of Pust’s business comes through sales across the country. He supplies around 35 dealers with electric vehicles and sells products online at revrides.com to customers in Seattle, San Francisco and New York. The location downtown is open for sales and maintenance by appointment only.
Pust said he doesn’t see much conflict between his and Adams’ business. He believes they both can thrive in downtown Vancouver.
“As we were both opening up and moving in Jason came by and introduced himself,” Pust said. “He’s a really nice guy; we talked about our business plans and I don’t see a lot of overlap.”
Pust said business has boomed across the industry during the pandemic, with sales doubling and almost tripling.
Pust and Minon Minnieweather, Rev Rides’ client support specialist, had a couple of theories on the high demand: People are bored sheltering indoors and looking for environmentally friendly forms of transportation.
Minnieweather pointed out that the primary motivation is financial reasons. Recreational electric vehicles require less maintenance, cut out gas and parking costs and are often more affordable than a car for those wanting to avoid public transit during the pandemic.
“Now that everyone’s home, they have time now to think about practicality and their budget,” Minnieweather said. “There’s a practical aspect but also a fun side to it.”
Adams hopes to use the upward momentum in the electric vehicle industry to achieve his long-term goals of franchising his business. He plans on opening a second Zoot Scoot in Scottsdale, Ariz., in October.
“It’s all about the seasons,” Adams said. “When the rain comes back to the Northwest, it drops down to 85 in Arizona and that’s when they want to get outside.”
Pust and his co-workers at REV Rides all take part in a community ride for electric vehicles every Sunday.
He said it’s been a nice way to get out of the house and see people.
“These recreational electric vehicles are smooth and quiet,” Pust said. “You can hear all the birds and you can feel the breeze rush by.”