By Peter Zimmerman
Since last year, Vespa Portland, the Pacific Northwest’s largest scooter store, has been under new management. Taking over after the retirement of the previous owners, current owner Andrew Callaci has created an inclusive atmosphere for the Portland Scooter Community, hosting events, movie screenings and more at the shop on SE Martin Luther King Blvd.
Callaci had just returned from riding a scooter from Mexico City to Guadalajara, and grew up riding BMX bikes in San Diego. He loved that the local bike shop was the heart of the BMX scene. It was a place where he could go, not just for bikes and gear, but to meet up and be a part of the community. It is that management model he brings to Vespa Portland.
The shop sports a large inventory of scooters. There are small, 49cc entry-level scooters that only need a driver’s license to be ridden, and 300cc scooters that can top out at 90 mph. The store is not just Vespas; the store sells Italian Piaggio scooters, Genze full electric scooters and Ural sidecar motorcycles.
The scooter scene here is vibrant, with everyone from Nike executives to loan-strapped students making their way through the Vespa Portland store, and boasts local clubs like Twist’n’play.
The popularity of scooters makes sense too. It costs about $5 to fill the tank, they’re easy to park and can cost as little as $2500 brand new. Of course, the real reason, as Callaci says, is they’re just fun.
Unlike a car, where you are closed off from the world outside, scooters allow you to interact with the landscape, to feel the wind in your hair, and with no shifting to speak of, you just turn the throttle and go.
Vespa Portland is located at 205 SE Martin Luther King Blvd. and hosts A Nod to Mod, a scooter and bike themed fashion show April 12.