When Chelsea Lahmers got into the scooter business in 2002, no one was importing the now-ubiquitous bikes to the United States. In Richmond, she says, there were only a handful of enthusiasts who rode lovingly restored vintage models from the ’60s and ’70s.
“If I saw someone on a scooter,” she says, “I knew them.”
Today if she sees someone on a scooter, she probably sold it to them. As the bikes caught on and new models started arriving for sale in the country, the project she started as a mail-order vintage parts business morphed into a full-service dealership in Manchester. She says her business has put more than 1,600 scooters on the Richmond streets since it started selling new models in 2004.
While she’s gone from enthusiast to the owner of the biggest dealership in the city, Lahmers has remained active in the community that’s allowed her business to grow. This year she worked with state legislators to develop new laws governing mopeds and scooters. The changes will make it easier to identify riders if they’re injured in a crash, she says, and will deter thieves by requiring plates for the vehicles.
The latter is an issue she’s been working on independently for years. Lahmers uses her social network and her shop’s to broadcast alerts and pictures when bikes get stolen. She’s even chased down suspected thieves on her own bike.
“It’s been really great watching the scooter community grow and work together,” she says. “They take care of each other and we take care of them.”
She also extends her care to pit bull puppies, serving as a foster parent for the nonprofit Ring Dog Rescue.