By SHERIDAN ROY
After 40 years in business, owner of the Moped Warehouse, LLC is looking to retire. Located at 1 Townline Rd. in Plainville, the shop has been a one-man show keeping up with the times through four decades, but Stephen Hill is ready to move on, and sell as much inventory beforehand as possible.
His business model has changed over the years from wholesale, to sub-distribution, to retail, but Hill’s curiosity and his eye for perfection when assembling the mopeds has remained the same. Now, he hopes to find the right person to take over the business.
“I’ve been operating the business part-time, and it really needs new blood that’s going to be able to be a little more dedicated to it,” Hill said. His adventurous side, and grandchildren, are calling his name. “I’ve got a lot of outside interests slappin’ me around saying, ‘You need to retire.’”
When he was 25, a friend of his had a motorcycle repair shop on Trout Brook Road in West Hartford.
“I found it interesting that his specialty was English bikes, but he didn’t own one. He rode a moped,” Hill said. “At the time, I was really interested in working for myself. He suggested I get into mopeds.”
Hill’s friend gave him four trade magazines that he read cover to cover, and through those, was able to find leads. From that point, he jumped into business as a wholesaler, working out of his house for the first six months before opening a shop on Farmington Avenue in Hartford with no plumbing, or heating. He stayed there for 15 years.
The wholesale business grew quickly, and without interest in trying to manage multiple stores, Hill had a change of pace and came up with a way to supply other shops with parts.
“Eventually, I always intended to close the retail portion and keep doing wholesale, but the exact opposite happened,” he said.
Hill began focusing on the Wolf Brand scooters and mopeds and decided to keep the retail store open. He spends shop time building and servicing Wolf Brand scooters, and “gets a kick out of the weird service issues” that require keen attention to detail.
“I never wanted employees. I believe if you assemble one of these properly and prep it properly, there are much less problems for the customer and for the dealer,” said Hill. “Others might not do it my way, and I just have never felt comfortable entrusting that to someone else. Plus, I like putting them together.”
It takes about an hour and a half to two hours for Hill to assemble a brand new bike himself. The mopeds are gas-powered and ride at 35 to 40 mph.
“Every state has different laws with mopeds but Connecticut is maybe one of the most flexible and liberal in the country,” said Hill. “You just need a valid driver’s license. That really opens the door for the dealer to sell a lot of products.”
Hill envisions the “right person” to take over the shop and actually move the business to another facility.
“There are many other good moped shops around the state who know what they’re doing,” said Hill. “I think the best fit is for this to become a part of a lineup in another store.”
The shop owner said one of the best things about managing the one-man show is that he has never looked at the clock in anticipation to leave.
“I have had a great career. The industry has served me well, and I would like to see someone carry it on,” said Hill.
Call the Moped Warehouse at (860) 747-5555 or visit 1 Townline Rd., Plainville, to view and purchase inventory on sale or to inquire about picking up where Hill is leaving off. The shop is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
To comment on this story or to contact staff writer Sheridan Roy, email her at SRoy@SouthingtonObserver.com.