Popular new Vancouver personal electric vehicles store all charged up

Popular new Vancouver personal electric vehicles store all charged up

‘It just blew our minds’: Inventory of electric unicycles, kick-scoooters, skateboards and the like sold out within six weeks

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Bradley Spence admits he was a bit worried about opening a new store in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly since it specialized in a relatively new product line: personal electric vehicles.

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Never heard of them? Few people have. It stands for electric unicycles, electric kick-scooters, electric skateboards and “One Wheels,” an electric skateboard with a big fat tire that is great for off-roading.

In March, Spence and his business partner Lukas Tanasiuk threw caution to the wind and opened their store, eevee’s, at 230 East Pender St. in Chinatown. And lo and behold, if it didn’t take off.

“We thought we’d sell one every three days or so, and we were selling five, six, seven a day,” he said. “It just blew our minds.”

In the first month-and-a-half, they sold out of all their stock, which sells for $799 to $4,000.

“It wasn’t even a grand opening, just a soft launch, and we sold out of all our inventory within six weeks,” he said.

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“But it’s a good problem to have, because we sold out of what we thought was going to be six months worth of inventory in just six weeks. So I can’t complain.”

Spence said they’re now taking orders, with the next shipment arriving within two weeks.

“I had a customer in who sold his car and bought a Veteran Sherman, because he wants to commute on a Veteran Sherman every day,” he said.

The Veteran Sherman is kind of the Rolls-Royce of electric unicycles, which are known as EUCs. The sturdy model is named after the Sherman tank, and can rip along at 60 km/h. Spencer rode one to Whistler.

“It took about three-and-a half-hours to get there,” he said.

“You kind of learn to balance on one foot while you’re riding, and can shake out one foot a little bit, put it down and shake out the other foot. So you do learn to move your feet to get the blood flowing again.”

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A night shot of eevee’s, a new ‘personal electric vehicle’ store at 230 East Pender St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The mural at the back is by Kaitlin Marlowe.
A night shot of eevee’s, a new ‘personal electric vehicle’ store at 230 East Pender St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown. The mural at the back is by Kaitlin Marlowe.

That said, he recommends “armouring up” before embarking on this long a journey.

“I wear my armoured jacket, I wear knee pads, a full face helmet and wrist guards,” he said.

The 32-year-old Spence got into One Wheels when he travelled around the U.S., trying to market Boulder Jeans, an “ultra-stretch, stain resistant premium denim line” he also owns that was inspired by rock climbing.

“I travelled around living out of my van,” he recounts.

“Every time I got to a city I could explore the city on my One Wheel, and I saw so much more of the city — I would ride with all the One Wheel communities in each city.”

Back in Vancouver, he started riding with local One Wheelers, and “selling them out of my apartment.” He watched the numbers multiply, and decided to open a retail outlet.

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He realized Chinatown is a risky location — it’s on the edge of the troubled Downtown Eastside, and many Chinatown retailers are struggling. But he found you get much more bang for the buck there.

“We have 6,000 sq. ft. of space here, and we’re paying the same rent a 900-sq.-ft. store would on West Fourth in Kitsilano,” he said.

It took a lot of work, but eevee’s is quite lovely, spacious and filled with small neon signs of lightning bolts and the various products. Spence’s girlfriend Kaitlin Marlowe topped it off with a groovy black and white mural of local icons (the East Van sign, Science World, a totem pole) that evokes artists like Keith Haring and I Braineater.

The beauty continues outside with a bigger neon sign hanging on the exterior of a handsome 1915 heritage building.

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“Now that we’ve been here … I couldn’t think of a better location to be in,” he said. “It’s right by the Union bike path, it’s the perfect place for us.”

There’s also a surprising amount of walk-by traffic. Much of it comes from Mello, a wildly popular donut shop that’s across the street on Pender.

“They have a lineup down the street all the time, especially on weekends,” he said. “And that lineup is staring at our neon signs all day long. They actually get us a lot of customers.

“Have you tried their donuts yet? Oh, you have to go, they have the best donuts in town. It’s a Korean donut shop, and they’re making me fat.”

jmackie@postmedia.com

Some of the products at eevee’s, a new ‘personal electric vehicle’ store at 230 East Pender St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
Some of the products at eevee’s, a new ‘personal electric vehicle’ store at 230 East Pender St. in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
Electric unicycles at eevee’s.
Electric unicycles at eevee’s.
Electric kick-scooters.
Electric kick-scooters.

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