One year ago I was about to fly from Seattle to Ft. Lauderdale area to meet with the folks from Prodeco Technologies. For four years I had been searching for an affordable, quality electric bike with the power to deal with extremely hilly Pacific Northwest terrain.
500 watts of power, to be exact.
I wanted to buy two for my boat, a sail-assist ocean going motor vessel which I helped design and had built in the U.S. Like an electric bike, it is extremely efficient. Like Prodeco bikes, it is built in the U.S.
I started reading about electric bikes and I realized that: (1) like my boat, they are extremely efficient; and (2) the United States is ridiculously far behind in enjoying the many benefit of e-bikes. So, instead of just buying two bikes, I decided, at age 59, to become the exclusive Puget Sound area distributor for Prodeco bicycles and to build around that business relationship a store – Seattle E-Bike -- that would promote the benefits of electric bikes to one of the most energy conscious and bicycle oriented metropolitan areas in the country.
We opened our store and sold our first e-bike on January 28, 2012. Since then, we have sold a lot of e-bikes and learned a lot about our industry. We have grown from 2 employees to six. We are introducing 6 new ways to combine bikes, trikes and batteries, all with the same fundamental concept but each with a fundamentally different, yet intelligent and practical approach to ultra-efficient transportation.
One year ago we guessed right that E-bikes are finally beginning to have their day in this country. We were also correct that Prodeco’s combination of quality, good design and low price would make Prodeco bikes very popular. However, both of these things were truer than either we or Prodeco forecast. They simply could not keep up with the demand for their product and we faced the misery of not being able to sell bikes to all of the customers who wanted them, especially our internet customers. Click the Prodeco tab and learn how they have solved that issue.
For our part, we have aggressively stocked our store and warehouse and, as of today, have over 200 bikes for sale. We are almost finished designing a new unified inventory system, so that when an internet customer goes to a cart looking for a model, their choice will be fulfilled whether the bike is at the fulfillment warehouse or is in the store inventory.
When we began, we decided that the e-bike concept - and Prodeco’s execution of it - were worth selling in a truly fine venue. We were able to find space in a magnificent historic building in the Pioneer Square Historic District at the southern end of Seattle’s downtown, with 17 foot ceilings, brick walls and a wrought iron storefront. I designed a marine quality hoist system that allows us to display half of our inventory in mid-air with safety and ease of retrieval.
General opinion is that the store is a knockout. Local artists frequently ask us for the opportunity to display their art in our store. Sometimes we do that.
Located at 1st and Main South (the center of Seattle in 1889 and only 8 blocks from the center of town today), thousands of people a month walk past our brightly lit store (95% LED lighting). For many, our store is their first introduction to the entire concept of the E-bike blend of electricity with physical pedaling.
While aesthetics are very important and we feel they are their own reward, they also help us transmit our core message: our commitment to giving the e-bike customer a quality service oriented experience. To learn how we achieved that and our plans to do even better in the future, read about our quality difference.