We've all seen them: scooters on sidewalks; scooters on streets; scooters ridden by kids and adults alike. It's the scooter craze, and this fashionable trend is growing more popular every day.
Priced at less than $100, and sold in stores as different as The Sharper Image and Toys "R" Us, The Razor scooter is attracting a lot of attention. It certainly attracted the attention of Sharper Image's CEO, who discovered the Razor at the 1998 Hong Kong Toy Fair. With an initial order of four thousand scooters, he intended to test sales in stores, through his company's catalogue, and on the Web.
In April of 1999, The Sharper Image's first shipment of scooters arrived, and almost overnight the sleek new gadget was seized upon by trendsetters. Within a few months, Razors were a mainstream hit. Sales surged explosively from one million sales in all of 1999 to more than a million sold in just the first half of this year.
According to Amanda Freeman, Director of Research and Trends at Youth Intelligence, a firm that tracks the cutting edge of popular culture for Fortune 500 clients, "The Internet has served to make everything more accessible and make trends happen quickly. It's actually sped up the cycle which a trend takes to come from the bleeding edge to the mainstream."
And while it's true that hundreds of Web sites extolling the joys of scootering have sprung up, the Razor's popularity involves more than just exposure over the Internet. Howie, the Assistant Manager of a Sharper Image store, has watched the reactions of thousands of customers when they first see the Razor scooter. "Kids love them because they're kids. They want to play with them. Adults love them because, you know, there's no gas involved; there's no electricity involved. It's something very small and it's very light."
In fact, the popularity of the Razor may be due to something a lot more simple than hype, marketing, and a strong Internet presence. For adults, the scooter hearkens back to nostalgic, low-tech times more imaginary than real. And for kids (of all ages), scooters are just plain, old-fashioned fun.