By Bruno Matarazzo Jr.
NEWBURYPORT — A new company looking to rent out electric scooters is raising the concerns of some local business owners who paid for advertising placements on the vehicles but have yet to see them zipping around the city.
Motoretta LLC owners Leon and Meaghan Gibbs of Newburyport tout their new business as a way to rent out greener modes of transportation for local residents and tourists visiting the area.
They blame the delay of the launch of their business on the U.S. Customs Authority in Boston, which they say has held up the arrival of their 32 scooters,
"We should open any day now," Meaghan Gibbs said. "(The scooters) are in Boston. We are now at the mercy of U.S. Customs Authority and union dock workers. There's a lot of work going on behind the scenes."
In addition to the proceeds from scooter rentals, the company is looking to draw revenue from the sale of advertising on the vehicles.
Matthew Kozazcki of Tendercrop Farm in Newbury thought the scooter rental idea was a great one and bought advertising for two scooters. He said he was told the scooters would be on the road around Memorial Day, but the entire holiday weekend passed with no sight of them.
"I don't know where they are," Kozazcki said. "I don't know what happened. It's too bad. I lost a couple thousand dollars unless they give it back to me, but I don't know how to get in touch with these people."
Sue Carelli, a manager at Agave restaurant on State Street in downtown Newburyport, also bought advertising for three scooters. She was originally told the scooters would be out by April, but the date kept getting pushed back.
"We paid in full," Carelli said. "We haven't seen anything and can't get any solid answers."
But Gibbs said the company has been regularly sending out emails updating people on the business.
Gibbs said the electric scooters, which were adapted to fit a 110-volt battery, were shipped from Asia.
The couple has experience in that continent, having lived in China, where they saw the electric scooters being used.
"This is a brand new business, a brand new product. We had a few stumbling blocks, but things are going through smoothly," Gibbs said.
Gibbs, who described the scooters as urban chic in style, believes the vehicles will be beneficial in providing additional transportation opportunities in the community.
"We're convinced Newburyport is the right place to start this," she said,
This isn't the first business the couple has tried to start in Newburyport.
In 2010, the couple planned to open a wine bar in the Brackett Heel building on Prince Place, but they were forced to pull out after running into problems with abutters.