Newsweek spotlights growing scooter market

Sunday, January 8, 2006

EXETER, Pa. - Newsweek ran a full-page story on the scooter boom in its Jan. 9 issue, and HME dealers can read it with no fear. Not once did the story mention the industry's traditional bugaboos: fraud and abuse.

"It was terrific that such a positive expression and outlook was given the product--in light of the direction it could have gone," said Dan Meuser, president of Pride Mobility Products, who was quoted in the story.

If anything, Meuser said, he expected the story to cover a little more substance.

"We were hoping to get the message out about more technology, lower cost, more scooter for the money," he said. "And also where to get scooters. That is still one of the biggest questions that people ask."

On second thought, he added: "But heck, they are not going to put out something that is going to sell the product."

Maybe not intentionally, but the Newsweek story, which reached millions of mainstream consumers, can't help but increase product awareness. The story ran under the headline "It's the new walking" and characterized the current scooter market this way: "Once solely the domain of the barely mobile, scooters are becoming more lifestyle accessory than medical necessity as obesity rates skyrocket and life-expectancy creeps up."

The story continues: "With the number of obese adults over the age of 60 in the United States expected to reach nearly 21 million in 2010, a 43% jump from 2000, the appeal of the wheel is obvious. Add a generation of aging baby boomers used to doing what they want, when they want, and you just might have the next suburban status symbol."

In addition to Meuser, the story quoted Scooter Store President Doug Harrison; Donny Albrecht, of the Wishing Well, a Santa Monica, Calif., mobility store; aging daredevil and former Pride spokesman Evel Knievel; and scooter users Ed and Yvonne Greenleaf, both 68.

The story also highlighted the fact that "a new generation of cheaper (under $1,000) lighter (a four-hour charge is good for about 20 miles) models is attracting consumers ready to pay out-of-pocket."

"If this article can help someone have access to a scooter that they may not have had before, it is a wonderful thing for our industry and those people," said Kristeen Imperiale, Pride's director of marketing. "This article will hopefully help make scooters more accessible to everyday people."