Just outside of downtown Carlisle, PA sits an old white church. A few scooters are always parked out front, including an oldie-but-goodie near the sign. Welcome to Carlisle Cycle and Scooter.
Owner Bill Viney bought the building years ago after relocating from Maryland. He tried and disliked the auto shop business; scooters were a much better fit. Through the original vestibule doors, the inside of the shop is lined with rows of scooters, some new and some not-so-new. Helmets grace the back wall and a counter littered with bits of this and that sits in the front. It’s a family business and on any given day you can find a few of them working on whatever needs doing, along with their old black labrador. Most times a friend is warming a stool by the counter as well. It’s all about community here.
I had come to order boots for my husband, and we pulled out catalogs, enlisted Bill’s son to show me his boots and ragged on a fellow regular who had just arrived. “Show her your boots,” said Bill. “Can’t,” he laughed, “I was walking the dog and forgot. I wondered why my feet were cold on the way here.” No matter. Out on the side porch, I got to see the official jousting scooters used for the annual games. “I pulled this one off a junk truck,” said Bill, “and it just won’t die.” It was the perfect scooter for a knight bearing a pool noodle lance, and it had been ridden hard and put away wet more than once. These scooters are kept exclusively to beat up; they’re knockoffs and nothing like the Vespas, Stellas and Buddys in the shop.
You won’t find a fancy anything here, unless you count the scooters and helmets. Everything serves a purpose and space is tight. Want to have Bill fix your scooter? No problem, he’ll tell you when to bring it in and when to pick it up. “If you leave it more than three days, we might store it in the bathroom,” says Bill. And while he laughs, make no mistake, he really will use every inch of space.
I happen to really like the feeling here at this shop. I wanted to find a local place where I could ask questions, get advice and have someone tell me the honest truth. The folks here do their best to comply. Better still, Bill invites you to join the community, if you’d like. We met up with them for the final food truck festival of the year in October. Granted, we were late and missed the time change, but we caught up and enjoyed some of the finest food the trucks brought that evening (who doesn’t like waffles for dessert?), gathered around an old table in a different church parking lot. We missed the jousting and bonfire a few weeks later, but I have high hopes for next year. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Partnered with the local scooter club out of Middletown, PA, I’m also looking forward to next year’s camping jamboree.
Now I realize that many folks get everything they need with just the click of a mouse, and it’s delivered right to your door. But I also think there’s a heckuva value in supporting local businesses that have everything you need as well, and here anyways, the prices are comparable. You really can’t imagine what that full helmet feels like until you try it on; and the folks at Carlisle Cycle and Scooter don’t hesitate to reach over and check the fit. Same thing goes for everything in the shop. They know their stuff, and they’re willing to teach you a little too.
The whole idea with scootering is to be a little more connected, a little more part of a community. So go out and support your local shop. You’ll both be the better for it, and if you ever want to joust with a pool noodle, I’ve got just the place for you…
PS Wanna know the dog’s name? You’ll have to stop in and find out for yourself. Just tell Bill I sent you.