What was your first job out of college? It probably wasn't as cool as what Peter Caschera's got going on.
After graduating this past May from Georgetown he came back to the Capital Region and opened a Vespa dealership. (His brother Giuseppe, who's still in college, helps out during school breaks.)
We stopped by the dealership in Schenectady this week to ask Peter a few questions... and, um, ogle the merchandise.
How did you get into selling Vespas?
I'm absolutely crazy about the machines. I think they're just beautiful to look at. I think that they're so much fun to ride. And I never realized this, but with gas at $4 a gallon, everyone starts getting interested in scooters... 80 mpg that's what everyone's talking about now.
When I go to Italy -- my family is Italian -- when we go there we see a bunch of the Vespa. They're all over the place. In Italy, not only have gas prices been high for decade after decade, but they're poorer there. So, gas takes a bigger chunk of their wallet and that's when you see the Vespas all over the place.
I sit here on Erie Blvd and see all the traffic go by, and I'm guilty of this too, I drive my Jeep -- one person -- just for local chores and stuff around town where a scooter would be 100 percent perfect. I don't think the scooter is a solution to all our travel needs. I think it's good as a supplement during the summer months -- we have a solid six months of riding season here.
You said you love them. What's so great about a Vespa?
Have you ever seen one? (laughs) Just look at it, the way it curves. It's unbelievable. It sounds like I'm talking about a woman here. (laughs) The curves on a Vespa are just like eye candy for me. I don't know what it is.
The designer was an aeronautics designer and [after WWII] he wanted to come up with something that was cheap and efficient motor transport. And, of course, being Italian he wanted it to be designed -- you know, Italians are known for their design.
It's just a doll. It's just so much fun to ride. I mean, I love 'em so much I opened a dealership.
You're 22, you just graduated from college this past May, you could do all sorts of things. Why do this?
Well, I graduated from Georgetown in Washington and it seems like everyone feels like they have to be a doctor or a lawyer. And I don't know. I had some internships in different careers. A lot of people aren't happy in those careers. You know, they might make some money, but...
[This job] is just so much fun. I mean, I'm always next to Vespas. They're beautiful.
There was a Vespa dealership in Saratoga a few years ago and it didn't make it. Did that concern you at all about trying again?
It did concern me a little bit. We're doing things a little bit different than they did. And we also have gas prices at 4 dollars where they weren't back then. So we get a new demographic. And I know it seems like gas prices are down now, but they raised the prices so high that they go down a little bit it seems like people are getting a deal at the pump.
In the long run, the trend is towards more scooters, smaller motorcycles. The lady in Saratoga, I don't know too much about it, really. I mean, she was probably paying a lot of rent. And it's not like she didn't go on to bigger, better things. You know, she owns Depaula Chevrolet, so she just probably has bigger, better things to do.
The Vespa has a certain glamour associated with it. And we're not sure when people think of glamour they think of Schenectady.
Yeah, I know, there's a lot of truth in that. I'm from Rotterdam, from Schenectady and I do see the city turning around. There's a lot of potential in the city.
You know, I got the franchise for the whole Capital District. And the way the area is wired, I think it's one place. People who live in Schenectady work in Albany and vice versa. I consider I'm in the Capital District more than just Schenectady.
Are you concerned that in January or February people aren't going to be into riding a scooter?
Yeah, it is seasonal. People in the industry will tell you that people buy motorcycles all year round, though. It'll probably be slower in the winter months, but in December people buy them for Christmas and they buy a lot of accessories.
I ride mine from May 1, typically, to October 1. That's because I don't like to wear a jacket. I just like to go, wind in my face, bugs in my teeth. But this year I'm going to consider putting on a jacket and people say you can get another month on each end.
You have to still have a car. You're on the market for another car, this is like a half a car.
Gas prices are on the incline and we're going to see European gas prices here at some point. So we gotta do something to make the bus sexy somehow, or the train. We gotta start using [alternatives].
You don't have to do that for a Vespa, though.
No, it's already sexy. (laughs) Especially with me on it. (big smile and laugh)
So what's your plan for the future?
We're definitely going to expand. This in my dad's auto parts business. He cut me off a little corner of his store, you know, put some Vespas here and see if it works. It does work. [AOA: Peter says he's sold about 45 Vespas since June.]
We're going to expand. We're going to carry a couple of other brands. Piaggio, the parent of Vespa, bought out a few other motorcycle manufacturers and we're going to carry four of them. So, we're getting a bigger facility. Service is the number one priority, so we'll have service bays, technicians, stuff like that.
So, we're going to move. It might not be in Schenectady. We're on the market for a nice place with high visibility so people know where we are.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
1401 Erie Blvd
Schenectady, NY 12305
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