Downtown rental shop offers fun alternative to hoofin’ it

Published 1:00 pm Friday, June 18, 2010

Joe Allen sits in a surrey "limo," which can seat six with four people pedaling, at his State Street store, Scooter Joe's. The shop rents scooters, Kickbikes, bullet lowrider bikes and tandem bikes. Photo by Katie Johnson


Sometimes the best way to visit a vacation destination is by foot – or scooter.

Joe Allen saw a business opportunity in St. Joseph when he returned to his hometown a couple years ago.

“The city has done a great job building a summer destination,” said Allen, who started Scooter Joe’s last summer on State Street.

“I started just with scooters,” the store’s namesake said. “The original business plan was just boat rentals.”

Allen was born and raised in St. Joseph, and left the area after high school graduation. He lived in New Hampshire and then California before returning to New Hampshire, where he lived for many years.

“I just missed the area,” Allen said. “It’s just a great location here. There’s just a lot of great things happening here.”

When Allen was seeking business opportunities in St. Joseph, he looked to fill a niche. He found one in scooters.

“People love them,” he said. “There’s a lot of quiet neighborhoods here. It’s a great photo opportunity.”

Michigan law prohibits allowing passengers on scooters, so Allen expanded his inventory to include surrey bikes, which can seat multiple people and are common in larger cities and tourist destinations. The “limo” model can seat six people, with four people pedaling.

They can be rented by the hour, for several hours and for a full day.