LimeBike and "scooter lifestyle stores" as an example of forward marketing for sustainable mobility
I somehow missed last week's reports that LimeBike intends to open "scooter lifestyle" stores in major cities where they offer e-scooter sharing ("Lime will open brick-and-mortar scooter ‘lifestyle stores’," TechCrunch) and perhaps in those cities where they intend to launch car share programs ("Lime pursues car sharing in Seattle, breaking new ground for the bike and scooter startup," GeekWire).
From the TechCrunch article:
Lime will rent vehicles directly from the store as well as charge them, with the full-time manager’s role including “monitoring inventory levels” as well as daily operations, and employee recruiting. They’ll also be throwing live events to build Lime’s hype. Given the company is calling this a lifestyle store, the focus will likely be on showing how Lime’s scooters and bikes can become part of people’s lives and enhance their happiness, rather than on maximizing rental volume.Note that Segway has stores here and there, including in DC. Often the stores are associated with city tour offerings. Tesla has showrooms in cities and shopping malls with high end demographics. Etc.
It reminds me of something I've been writing for years and years.
First, in past entries I've suggested that transportation demand management "stores" like Arlington's Commuter Stores, do something like this, be more lifestyle oriented, not strictly transactional.
That's because car dealerships were used to sell and promote the automobility lifestyle or motordom, and even though bicycles predate cars, bicycling for transportation needs to be constantly promoted in order to be seen as more than a toy for recreation.
Hagin-Koplin Ford dealership, Newark, New Jersey, c. 1959
Especially given the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on automobile advertising. For example, Ford's new "Built Ford Proud" television commercial, which is part of a multi-million dollar campaign (press release).
Thorough, integrated, constant, well-done, and on-going marketing tends to be a missing piece in public programming for transportation demand management.
Second, I developed a concept along these lines as part of my brief foray into attempting to sell bike share systems.
To differentiate our offering, we included a proposal to put what you might call a "biking" lifestyle and "transportation demand management" store as the front end of the necessary back end repair and operations center.
You'd have a repair shop, a cafe, sell bicycles, including cargo bikes, tandems, and e-bikes, but also support metropolitan scale bike tourism and provide information, bike maps, classes and programming, etc.
The concept pulled together a variety of best practices.
(1) good "transportation demand stores" like Arlington's or Tempe's which is in the city transportation center for bus and light rail, alongside a separately run bike shop and special bike parking facilities.
Tempe Transportation Center
(2) Obviously, good bike shops. But now there are bike cafes in many places, even bike and brewpub operations ("12 Patios Worth the Pedaling," Travel Iowa). Rapha mixes apparel sales and cafe in a concept they call the Rapha Clubhouse, in major cities in the US and Europe, including DC.
In DC, the District Hardware bike repair shop (a "store within a store") on the Wharf has a cafe. There is a taco place as part of the Bike Rack shop in Brookland alongside the Metropolitan Branch Trail.
There's a two-floor bike shop across from the Museum of London that has repair and cafe on the ground floor, even a place to store bikes while you're in the cafe, with bike sales underground in the basement.
Network Rail in the UK has licensed the "Cyclepoint" concept and uses it to brand bike parking centers at train stations. The Cyclepoint in Leeds had a bike store, run by a national firm, but that function eventually shut down.
(3) The Race Pace Bicycle Shop in Ellicott City has a dedicated store within a store for women's cycling called Bella Bikes but also has a huge map of the region's bike trails on one wall, along with maps and brochures from many of the area jurisdictions. At least that's the way it was in the original location ("Maryland retailer moves store after extensive remodel," Bicycle Retailer).
(4) the headquarters for VeloQuebec, the bicycle advocacy group for the Province of Quebec.
It's located on a highly used cycletrack in the City of Montreal, across from Parc La Fontaine.
The VeloQuebec store has a cafe and a travel agency--they sell a lot of bike touring packages, a little bookstore too, which also sells their publication.
But the "House of Bicycles" doesn't offer bike repair.
(5) the way that Lululemon originally made their yoga apparel stores as centers for the yoga community, promoting independent yoga instructors, having a community information board in the stores ("Lifestyle for sale at Lululemon," Washington Times).
(Although it seems as if many stores have dropped this feature over the years.)
(6). Adidas Runbase stores are shoe stores that have locker rooms, showers, etc., and serve as an anchor for the local running community. ("Boston Marathon Runbase opens on Boylston Street," Competitor).
The first Runbase was in Tokyo. Apparently, "running station" type stores are big there and Adidas was not the first ("City of Fleet Feet").
And the now closed running shoe store on Falls Road in Baltimore County was very supportive of extending the Jones Falls Trail into the county, arguing that runners were avid use of trails also.
(7) Turns out, along the same lines, Goodyear Tire has come up with a new concept called Roll, targeting younger demographics, offering a better experience for buying/replacing tires. The stores sell tires but installation is off-site.
They are being piloted in the DC area, including in Bethesda Row in Montgomery County ("How the Innovative Roll By Goodyear Pilot Program Works," Modern Tire Dealer).
The stores are located in lifestyle shopping districts, rather than the more traditional service shops designed as repair garages, semi-industrial, and not necessarily located in highly visible places.
More bike shops are doing a better job of including maps and brochures, but often the information is inadequately displayed.
That's why more recently I've had the idea that area transportation demand management programs should create model bike commuting information kiosks for bike and recreational stores, using the Arlington transportation information kiosk as a model.
Maps and informative brochures are displayed on a back wall of the Takoma Bicycles store in Takoma Park, Maryland in a manner that makes the information less accessible.