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New Vespa Dealership is a Stylish Return to Roots

By Eric Richardson
Published: Friday, November 20, 2009, at 03:36PM
Vespa of L.A. Eric Richardson [Flickr]

Marketing/Sales Coordinator Amelia Sellers and General Manager Roger Miyakawa inside Downtown's new Vespa dealership at 3rd and Central.

When looking to open a Vespa dealership in Downtown Los Angeles, Roger Miyakawa didn't have to think hard before settling on Little Tokyo. After all, his grandfather was one of the Nisei pioneers who helped found the neighborhood. "These are my roots," he said.

After two years of planning and process, the dealership at 3rd and Central finally opened last week. A Sunday grand opening will offer food and test rides.

While Miyakawa hopes to convince Downtowners of the way a scooter fits into the urban lifestyle, first he had to convince Vespa about Downtown. That process took months, and Miyakawa even enlisted Councilwoman Jan Perry to write a letter praising the neighborhood's revitalization and its potential.

Early signs have been promising. Miyakawa said the store has sold four scooters in the first week and a half. Models range from $2,000 to $9,500. The average setup runs approximately $4,000 and gets 80 to 100 miles per gallon while going 60 miles per hour.

Miyakawa worked with Rosaline Bernstein of MODBOX design to create a shop that didn't look like your average car dealership. Wood and imported light fixtures give the space the feel of a fashion boutique. Striking photos on the walls were taken by Miyakawa, himself an accomplished product and fashion photographer.

The store does carry clothing and accessories for the fashionable scooter rider, with jackets that offer a rider protection while still matching the Vespa's Italian aesthetic.

Miyakawa hopes to see 3rd street become a more retail-oriented stretch, but isn't necessarily concerned about being slightly out of the way. "It's not really an impulse buy," he noted. More important was the site's parking lot.

Those who have already bought into the scooter idea can bring their rides into the dealership for maintenance. The store is an authorized Vespa service center, but Miyakawa isn't picky about what they will handle. "We'll fix anything," he said.

Sunday's festivities run from 1 to 5pm and will feature DJ's, food, drink and free test rides.

Vespa of Los Angeles / 301 S. Central Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90013 / 213-620-0022


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