Arkport Cycles, Inc.
1 Main Street
Arkport, N.Y., 14807
www.arkportcycles.com and www.arkportharley.com
70,000-sq.-ft. dealership founded in1971, 60 miles south of Rochester near the Pennsylvania border in the Finger Lakes area. Currently in three buildings on Main Street; adding a fourth. Carries Suzuki, Yamaha, Honda, Harley-Davidson, Arctic Cat, and Polaris. The largest-selling segments are ATV and Harley-Davidson. Sells about 1,200 units per year, with an annual gross revenue of $10 to $11 million. 35 employees.
“The newspapers here write, ‘The gentleman was riding a 1989 Honda 250.’ With a car accident, they don’t write that he’s driving a 1989 Buick,” says Jennifer Swarts, general manager.
“They really try to single out ATVs. Legislation in New York state can make it really hard. It’s just the way the world has gotten, with lawyers getting involved and everybody trying to sue everybody else. There’s a ton of pressure to make sure that everything is correct. Another thing that the powersports industry faces is pricing. I’m concerned the way prices creep up year after year, and wonder if they’re going to price out normal people.”
Swarts says the hottest ATVs are the Suzuki King Quad and the Polaris Ranger utility vehicle, “the larger version with a dump box. In cruisers, the Yamaha V-Stars sell really well, the new Suzuki Boulevard is picking up, and Harleys in general do very well, too.” While the dealership does not sell a lot of off-road motorcycles, it does move motocross accessories and clothing, plus Harley-Davidson accessories and MotorClothes. Arkport has more than 600 helmets on display.
CUSTOMER BUYING TRENDS
Since Arkport Cycles carries so many brands, it’s difficult to single out a single typical customer. “If you look at one single line — like Harley-Davidson — it would be 40 to 50 and upper-income,” notes Swarts. “But we get everyone from little kids on up.”
Swarts, who is the daughter of owners John and Rose Jamison, has been at the dealership since its founding and has worked there full-time for 17 years. “In the 1980s customers bought bikes because of necessity or gas prices; they used motorcycles as a secondary vehicle. Now it’s definitely more of a lifestyle. It’s not so much the stereotype. Everybody is riding now for enjoyment. We’ve seen many more families coming in with their kids to buy ATVs and motorcycles. This is a new trend that’s nice to see, because kids who start out young end up being riders when they’re older.”
“In New York state it’s very hard to ride ATVs anywhere, except if you own land,” notes Swarts. “New York has not opened up any state land and has started to crack down on people riding where they’re not supposed to. It’s more ATVs than off-road motorcycles, but if there are enough, they’ll start clamping down on the two-wheelers, too.”
Swarts’ husband is an ATV safety instructor who teaches courses five miles from the dealership on spring and summer weekends. “We really try to publicize safe riding of ATVs, especially to kids and adults who are new to ATVs. And we’ve been trying for the last five years to get a street motorcycle safety course taught at a college 20 miles from here, but that has been stopped by different issues with the facility.”
PARTS AND SERVICE
Arkport has 10 staff members in the service department (seven of them technicians) and five in parts. Last year the dealership redid its main building (which showcases parts and accessories), doubling its space. “Being able to stock more and show more has helped a lot,” says Swarts. The building under construction will be just for new vehicles.
PROMOTIONAL HOME RUNS
Arkport Cycles uses television, radio, and direct mail to promote itself. “The town of Arkport has a population of less than 900,” explains Swarts. “The closest metro area is about 60 miles away. So we use a lot of direct mail, because our customers come a long way to get to us.” The dealership is the meeting place for Arkport Harley Owners Group.
WORDS OF ADVICE
Swarts notes that the industry has changed “so much in the last few years, especially the Harley-Davidson sector. Our idea is to keep it real and keep it as fun as possible.
“People who come here don’t buy things that they need, they buy things that they want. So the customer base is much different from a car dealership’s. People don’t say, ‘My Harley died and I need a new one.’ They say, ‘This is my lifelong dream.’ So you’re fulfilling dreams. Most important, really have fun and enjoy the customers and the friends you make.”
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Copyright 2005 Powersports Business