Bird, the electric scooter company, has had its two-wheelers in town for about a month, and local Downtown businesses are seeing the benefits.
“It’s been very positive for Downtown,” said Cris Coffman, the owner of Nesting Goods. “We have seen people on them every single day having fun, people of all ages. It’s been a very positive thing so far.”
Coffman noticed that many people ride the scooters for entertainment more so than transportation, but she has been glad to see a wide demographic of users, from young to old.
“They’ll ride them around and then they’re going and visiting shops and the cafes and restaurants and things like that,” Coffman said. “I’ve seen that, more than people riding them from place to place because Downtown is so walkable. I don’t know that it’s something that you’re going to be riding from shop to shop.”
The new scooters have mostly benefited Downtown and Frederick Avenue, as that is where most are docked each morning, but there is a handful at the East Hills Shopping Center.
The St. Joseph City Council approved the scooters in June and Councilman Kent O’Dell is glad they are here.
“You go down there on Fridays where there is live music and stuff, and you see people all over the place going all over,” O’Dell said. “I like the idea of having them around here.”
It’s just one more way to explore Downtown and experience all the new restaurants and stores that seem to be opening.
“You can hop on a scooter and ride to have coffee and then shop a little bit,” said Christy George, the Downtown liaison for Mosaic Life Care. “It’s a great way to get around easily, especially in the heat.”
“It’s part of the whole experience,” Coffman said. “It stretches out the amount of time people will spend in our Downtown, and they’ll discover more of these amazing local businesses that are down here.”
But not everyone is flying high on the Bird scooters. People on social media have said they have been overcharged and the payment process is complicated. While locking the scooter keeps it docked, it doesn’t end the ride, continuing to charge users even though they aren’t moving.
Downtown business owners are still glad Bird is in town and for all the customers that use them to flock to their stores.
“The Birds are just another thing to do and another reason to come down and shop local and support the people that actually live in our city and give money back to the community,” Coffman said.