We had the good fortune of connecting with Howard Rains and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Howard, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I discovered motorscooters (like Vespas) in 2008. I fell in love with riding it and immediately began commuting on it and within a short time, I found some other like-minded people and began to ride with them when I had a chance.

I knew nothing about scooters other than my own, very limited experience, so I began to do some research. I found videos, talked with other scooter lovers and read some books and magazines. At the time there was only one American based scooter magazine, appropriately names “Scoot!” I read through as many issues as I could, but, like many magazines, it folded in 2013.

I do not have an editing or publishing background. I have been in the medical field since 1982 and a nurse since 1994. However, when I see a need, I try to fill it.

I imagined writing a regional newsletter and printed a sample and had my Tucson scooter friends check it out. They encouraged me to go ahead with the project. I made a free sample issue, then made some postings about it on social media and I gave away as many as were requested. They free sample let people know that all further issues would be available on a subscription basis.

I also realized that I was, in fact, starting a business. My wife helped me do some research. I also went to SCORE and learned a little bit more. I got the appropriate licenses and was soon all legit.

Because I still work full-time at the VA hospital, I reckoned that I would have the time to publish bi-monthly and that has worked well for me. By the time the third issue was ready to be published, I had subscribers coming in from states all over the country, so I revised my plan and changed my focus from regional, to national.

I continue to learn “on-the-job” and I feel that my editing and publishing skills are steadily improving.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
When I first started riding, the Tucson scooter community was very weak. It had a heyday in the 80’s but was struggling in the 2000’s. The was no active club in the area. I began riding in April of 2008 and by November had formed a club.

The following year we help our first rally. Growth and participation were on the rise. As the club got larger, it required more time and organization on my part. I had to make sure that people had fun, but that they were safe at the same time. There were some who would help me but most of the day-to-day work of keeping the club going and the members excited, fell on me. I believe that the creativity it took to organize rides, arrange places to meet and places to eat plus organizing a couple of large events every year laid the groundwork for me to be able to put the magazine together.

I also had to familiarize myself with other scooter clubs and events to see what others were doing. I’ve been to various event in the region and I try to stay in touch with the scooter community at large by being an active participant in numerous Facebook groups, forums and other social media.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I’ve been leading rides around southern Arizona for 14 years and I have become quite the tour guide. For a first day, I would start with breakfast at the Baja Cafe, then we would drive up Mount Lemmon, stopping at some of my favorite viewpoints. We would grab a coffee and a snack at the Cookie Cabin then head back down the mountain for a quick stop at Agua Caliente Park, followed by a leisurely drive around the Desert Loop at Saguaro National Park.

If should be about lunchtime so we would stop by The Pit for a quick meal from one of the many food trucks there.

I love to act as tour guide so we would visit several of the area ghost towns starting with a drive down Ghost Town Trail, starting in Pearce and ending in Gleason. I would also stop by the Amerind Museum at some point during the week. We would stop by Bisbee as well.

Some of the places we would stop to eat would be Poco & Mom’s, BK for some Sonoran Hotdogs, mama’s Hawaiian BBQ, Jethro’s Cafe and we stop at every location of The Screamery.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
As old-fashioned as it sounds, I owe any success I have to my wife, Melodie Rains. She does not ride but she has been my steadfast support in everything that has to do with scooters, our scooter club and the scooter magazine.. She helps me research. She proofreads stories and helps me with complicated grammar issues. She gives me story ideas. She is a planner and when I get a grand (sometimes grandiose) idea, she is the one who visualizes what it will take to make that idea into reality, then she assists me in making it happen.

Website: thescooterzine.com

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