Quincy resident hopes to profit from high gas prices by selling electric bikes

A.J. Bauer

Barbara McDonald rode her first electric bike last summer while visiting her daughter in a Toronto suburb, and was immediately hooked.

“We used it everywhere – to run errands, to pick up her daughter from school, all sorts of things without having to take the car out,” McDonald said. “I thought it was a great idea.”

So when she returned home to Marina Bay in Quincy, her first order of business was to find an electric bike of her own. She settled on a model from the Houston-based Veloteq brand.

But she didn’t stop there. Last September, she signed on to become an authorized dealer for the company and formed New England E-Bikes. She now oversees an inventory of six electric bikes at a time, which she shows at environmentally friendly product fairs throughout the region and displays on sunny days in front of the Summer House at Marina Bay.

McDonald admits her leap into electric bike dealing has been quick and unexpected, but it seems to fit with her long history of entrepreneurial endeavors.

Before returning to the Boston-area from Canada in 2001, McDonald had owned two Mail Boxes Etc. franchises, before the chain was purchased by UPS. And, after returning to Quincy in 2004, she founded a dog walking and pet sitting business, which she still operates, called All Pets Great & Small.

“But I want to make a lot more money,” she said. “I can do that with bikes.”

She said she expects the electric bikes – which plug into a typical AC electric socket and can travel as far as 50 miles on one six-hour charge – to gain in popularity as gasoline costs continue to rise. In particular, she expects commuters will take advantage of the electric bikes, which top out at 20 miles per hour.

“They’re great for a short commute or for people with large cars who want to leave them at home and commute to the (train) station,” she said.

The bikes range in price from $1,599 to $1,999. Because they are technically bicycles, they require no license or registration.

By summer’s end, McDonald said she hopes to have a more permanent display set up in Marina Bay, where she currently stores the bikes in between trade shows and fairs. Ultimately, she said she’d like to subdivide her sales territory, which consists of the South Shore, Cape Cod and the Islands, between 10 sales associates.

“I think I see the handwriting on the wall,” McDonald said. “E-bikes are an exciting business. The time has come for them.”

A.J. Bauer may be reached