E-Scooters have been an “incredible” boost for Red Deer’s downtown, say local business owners.
“The effect on the foot traffic and businesses downtown has been astounding,” said Brandon Bouchard, Tribe restaurant manager and operator of Red Deer Adventure walking tours.
Tribe went from operating Wednesdays through Saturdays at the beginning of the season to being open seven days a weeks because of rising high customer demand, Bouchard added.
Electric scooters were introduced to Red Deer last month when five companies brought about 1,000 e-scooters to the city, with plans to boost the number to 1,500.
Since the scooters arrived, Bouchard has noticed them parked in front of restaurants and stores on Ross Street: “Our neighbouring businesses have seen a tremendous increase in revenues.”
Some customers have told Bouchard they’ve never really explored the downtown before hopping on an e-scooter. “I’m already booking scooter tours… It’s amazing,” he added.
The Ross Street Patio, with its live music scene, is attracting bigger crowds this summer than last. And another emerging draw is mural project in downtown alleyways: 15 murals are being created by a variety of artists, local and from across Canada.
E-scooters are showing that people are regularly cruising into the city centre, said Kyle Key, owner of The Velvet Olive and Capitol Package Store.
“People are using them to get to and from our business. You also see more people coming in groups” — and as the evening goes on, Key will notice a line up of scooters parked by his bar entrance in the alley.
Taco Loft co-owner Mike Ubbing, believes the e-scooters have enhanced what’s already a sociable scene. Between his new Ross Street Ice Cream Co., the music and the murals, “we’re seeing more customers, more families, and just more diverse people…”
Ubbing said it’s particularly nice to see people riding e-scooters through downtown parks — including City Hall Park, Veteran’s Park and Coronation Park.
The increase in downtown traffic later in the day was noticed by Catherine Robb, owner of Housewarmings gift store, across from the Ross Street Patio.
It used to be that hardly anyone would be around after business hours, she said, but now people are riding e-scooters into the downtown to spend the evening.
As a result, Robb is considering pushing back her store hours to stay open later and take advantage of the evening bustle.