Small biz Monday: 5 reasons why you need to check out Panda Electric Boutique in Lakeview

Panda Electric Boutique
Brad Duffy with a motorcycle his buddy built. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Have you heard of Panda Electric Boutique in Lakeview? If you’re a fan of fun urban commutes that don’t involve a car, you need to know about this place. Keep reading for all the details. 

1. Brad Duffy, the owner of Panda Electric Boutique, has been in business here for 20 years

Panda Electric Boutique
Brad Duffy in the room at his place that will become the workshop, right behind the playroom. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Brad Duffy’s been in the automotive industry in Birmingham for 20 years. For 13 years, he’s owned Duffy’s Garage, a full service and repair facility specializing in European imports. 

Back before COVID turned the world upside down, he opened Panda, which was meant to be a sister shop to Duffy’s Garage, featuring cars, motorcycles and apparel. “It seemed like the perfect excuse to have extra toys,” said Duffy. 

But, as we all know, supply chain issues during COVID meant low inventory for cars and motorcycles, so Duffy, like everyone else, had to pivot to survive.

2. COVID prompted a shift toward electric

Check out all the OneWheels. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Duffy decided to shift the focus of his business to electric only. To do this, he teamed up with two out-of-town companies: 

  • OneWheel, out of Santa Cruz, California, which makes electric skateboards. These run between $950-1800. 
  • Lux Longboards, out of Arizona, which makes electric longboards. These run between $650-1300. 

Duffy himself is a huge fan of the smaller Lux Longboard. In fact, yesterday he rode his about eight miles through Inverness, up toward Spain Park and back and still had a charge left. 

Panda is building their own electric bikes, and is hoping to have three models ready by November. 

3. Panda Electric Boutique also sells apparel + safety equipment

Apparel at Panda Electric Boutique
Once they get the shelves built, this is all gonna look so cool. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Since it’s important to look the part while riding your electric skateboard or e-bike around town, Panda Electric Boutique has also teamed up with a couple of apparel companies: 

  • DC Shoes—for all the coolest skateboarding shoes
  • Element—this company gives back to the environment, making clothes from recycled cotton 

Right now, supply chain issues mean they’re building shelves for their inventory and getting ready to welcome the public.

Also, because safety matters, they also sell helmets. You never know when water on the road or a bit of gravel may have you bite the dust, literally. 

4. The time for the easy urban commute is now

ebikes at Panda Electric Boutique
Check out these e-bike prototypes. Photo via Brad Duffy

When I asked Brad Duffy why he chose to go electric, here’s what he said: 

“There’s such a desire to move into the city, with so many apartments under construction and restaurants to visit. No one will dispute that we don’t have enough parking spaces in Birmingham. While we’ve got some rental services for things like scooters, some would prefer the benefits of ownership. 

If you own an e-bike, you can easily transport yourself 25 blocks to school or work, similar to riding a motorcycle but without a license. Same with OneWheels and skateboards—you can go to class and take them with you. The long-range batteries last anywhere from 12-20 miles.”

Brad Duffy

Duffy wanted to fill the current void in Birmingham for alternative transport, so people wouldn’t have to drive their cars 26 blocks downtown during the 10 great-weather months we get a year here. 

Also, he’s a huge fan of motorcycles, so if you’re in the market for one, hit him up. 

5. Panda Electric Boutique is in a great location, right in the heart of Lakeview + they fix things

Panda Electric Boutique
There’s even parking right out front. Photo via Sharron Swain for Bham Now

Not only will Panda Electric Boutique sell you cool things like e-bikes or OneWheels, they’ll also service them for you.

As they get ready for their grand opening sometime in 2022, you’ll want to follow them on social for some big giveaways through the month of November and December. 

Location: 3012 6th Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35233

Hours: Monday-Friday 8AM-5PM—look for Saturday hours closer to the holidays

Facebook | Instagram | Website | 205.203.4001

Now tell us, Birmingham. What’s your favorite way to get around downtown? Tag us on social @bhamnow and let us know.

Sharron Swain
Sharron Swain

Writer, Interviewer + Adventurer | Telling stories to make a difference

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