Friday, January 4, 2013

Why not Start Celebrating Scott's 100th Anniversary a Year Early!

March 28, 1926
Grouse, grouse, grouse. Sometimes it seems pessimism has the upper hand when talking about bikes and transportation in Salem. So here's an unequivocal instance of fabulousness.

100 years ago this month, the business that became Scott's Cycle started!

While the store officially dates itself to 1914, the origin may not be quite so clearcut, and perhaps belongs a year earlier.  Why be picky?!  In the interest of celebrating something worth celebrating, let's start early - and celebrate often!

Here's a piece from 1926.  It's more or less what we'd call advertorial today and may not be wholly reliable. Still, much of it can be confirmed. 
He Gives His Business the Human Touch, Because He Feels That Way

Harry W. Scott was born in Rolla, North Dakota, January 19, 1896. When he was just a year old his family moved to Louisiana, where they lived thirteen years. In 1910 they again moved their home, this time to Salem, where Mr. Scott has been ever since, completing grade and high school courses in the Salem public schools.
January 30, 1913
In 1913 Mr. Scott entered his first business enterprise by opening a furniture store, which he operated for two years. In 1915 he organized a bicycle and motorcycle business institution, which he closed in 1918 to enter the World war as an American soldier, but reopened in 1919 at the termination of the war.
It might be optimistic to say that young Harry "opened" and "operated" a furniture store. A notice in the paper suggests that Harry's father and uncle bought the Peetz furniture business at 252 State Street some time in late January of 1913.  But it is true that a Scott business started in 1913!

The 1926 piece continues:
The Harry Scott Cycle Shop is the largest bicycle and motorcycle business in Oregon, and it has the agency of the well-known Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Mr. Scott's store and shop and headquarters are at 147 South Commercial street.
March 22, 1913
There is an individual, personal touch behind almost every successful business career, and this is strong in the case of Harry W. Scott. A friend of his has said of him that he has a million dollar smile, and a two million dollar giggle. He does not allow his business cares to make him forget that he is a human being, and he always has some time to devote loyally to community good. He likes his city and helps to make it a bigger and better city, and he likes folks, which helps to make folks like him, and he is largely literally "advertised by his loving friends," which is a well known advertising slogan. He is cordial because he feels that way, and not just because it pays - though does pay any business man or concern.
By the start of spring in 1913 the partnership was able to start advertising, and had added Harry's name as a partner at some level.

Bicycles don't appear in this first advertisement, and it is not clear exactly when the partnership started selling bicycles. (So far the first ad for the bike business I've found appears in 1915, consistent with the information in the 1926 piece.)

The original State Street location of Scott's is today the gravel parking lot on the alley next to the Salem Summit Company.

That's Scott's on the far left, at 252 State Street:  Oregon State Library
By 1926 the store had moved just around the corner to their current site (though a different building) at 147 South Commercial.

In 1965 a group with Larry Lewis bought the store from Harry Scott, and today Scott's remains in the Lewis family.

Over the course of the next year or two, they'll be lots more talk about the origins and history of Scott's Cycle.  In the mean time, stop by and congratulate them.  It's not every day a bike store can look back on 100 years!

No comments: