Overall numbers were
expectedly down, but some retailers saw increases
By Liz Hochstedler
Without the pull of a major anniversary celebration, the 71st annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally saw a smaller crowd than in 2010, but the riders who did attend were ready to spend, reported a few aftermarket vendors.
“The one thing we really encountered this year was crowds were down, but people were spending money like mad,” said JP Liesinger, vice president of operations for RIVCO.
Early estimates by the South Dakota Department of Transportation estimated traffic counts in and out of Sturgis were down nearly 12 percent through the final Thursday of the event, but were on par with 2009, according to a report in the Rapid City Journal. A final attendance count was not yet available when Powersports Business went to press.
Liesinger made a rough estimate that the crowd was down about 20 percent. He said most of the campgrounds weren’t fully booked, and the area concerts weren’t all sold out, but he did notice one of the campgrounds that appeals to larger, more upscale RVs was packed.
The lack of traffic worried RIVCO the first day, so employees packed up their 53-foot trailer on Lazelle Street early. But by the next morning, riders were asking why they had closed early. Despite a drop in attendance, electric horns, air horns, LED mirrors, driver floorboards and adjustable passenger floorboards sold well for RIVCO, which saw a 48 percent increase in sales over last year’s rally.
“The people just kept whipping out their wallets,” Liesinger said.
With less traffic, the company was also able to complete more installations with smaller lines. Kuryakyn also saw fewer customers, but more were interested in buying. The best-selling products for the company were performance products, luggage, chrome accessories, comfort items and LED lighting.
“Kuryakyn sales were up substantially,” sales and marketing director Marc Wolfram said.
For Klock Werks, sales reached about 70 percent of their 2010 levels, but that was expected when compared to an anniversary year.
“More at Sturgis, we probably sell more 8 ½-inch or 6-inch windshields because everyone’s riding either a Street Glide or an Ultra,” president Brian Klock said. “Our new flare windshield for the Heritage and Road Kings, that was fun to watch that because it’s kind of a new product. We’d give one to somebody to try it, and they’d say, ‘Absolutley, I’ll take it.’ And they’d go to the campground at night, and they’d sell 10 more people.”
High apparel sales for the company included a new women’s shirt, as well as foil print and burnout T-shirts.
“It was awesome. It was fun to watch,” he said. “We just didn’t have enough stock on hand probably.”
Liesinger said other T-shirt vendors also reported that they didn’t bring enough merchandise, expecting fewer sales. But low-cost T-shirts weren’t the only thing selling, as RIVCO was selling its $250-$700 products, and one custom motorcycle builder told Liesinger he had his most successful year to date.
“It was spread all the way across. There were no cheapskates,” Liesinger said.
The South Dakota Department of Revenue reported overall receipts for temporary vendors were down 5.8 percent to $15.5 million in gross revenue, according to the Rapid City Journal. But Wolfram said the rally was, “just another great year with great customers, certainly one of the best places for a rally in the country.”
For RIVCO, it was another successful rally in 2011.
“This year has been special all the way from the first one, which is Daytona, through Sturgis, and we expect to go all the way to the last one, which is Biketoberfest in Daytona,” he said.