Ladies of Wild Prairie H-D and the American Heart Association take over dealership
Seeing red isn’t necessarily a good thing — unless it’s at a well-attended Go Red For Women event at Wild Prairie Harley-Davidson in Eden Prairie, Minn. Walking in, guests were greeted with red balloons and immersed in a world of support. The front of the dealership was full of people milling about, signing up for several heart-pumping door prizes and grabbing the “heart healthy” lunch that was provided in the lounge.
The main display featured several MotorClothes items hand-selected for their color and a new 2015 Street 500 in dark wine red. Several bowls were set out with red wristbands and Go Red For Women pins featuring the signature Macy’s Red Dress.
Stephanie Cook, manager of MotorClothes at Wild Prairie, said she hadn’t realized the serious threat that heart disease posed to women until a few years ago. “I would shop at Macy’s and see the Red Dress, but I didn’t really know what it meant,” she said. “I thought cancer was the No. 1 killer of women and then all these commercials were coming out and saying no, that heart disease and stroke are the No. 1 killer of women. I said ‘We have to get involved.’”
Ladies in Red
According to the American Heart Association’s website, more than 200,000 health care providers have received Go Red For Women educational tools to use with patients, and this number continues to grow.
In 2014, more than $36 million dollars was raised to aid women in the fight against heart disease and stroke. The funds raised by Go Red For Women activities also support research to discover additional knowledge about heart health. The Wild Prairie H-D event was used to not only target the female rider audience, but also to promote awareness of a disease that does not get the amount of attention it demands.
Cook reached out to the director of Go Red For Women at the Twin Cities’ AHA, Alyssa Siech, who agreed that the Harley-Davidson event would be a great opportunity to spread awareness. Wild Prairie and sister store St. Paul Harley-Davidson have both been Powersports Business Power 50 dealerships the past two years.
“We work at Harley; we want to show our support, and we want to support women being a woman rider — that’s what we do,” Cook said. “We had to join forces [with the AHA]. They said absolutely.”
Megan Hicks, a survivor of congenital heart disease, gave a talk on her experience with the AHA just before the fashion show. She reiterated how important it is to spread awareness of heart disease, which has become just as prevalent as cancer. “Countless women are unaware of the risks or the threat that heart disease poses toward them,” Hicks added.
Cook agreed that she used to be one of those women and even lost a grandfather to heart failure. Cook wanted Hicks as a guest speaker and thought that women could benefit from hearing her personal story. “Having Megan speak is amazing because then people can see that this is a person who’s actually been affected by this disease. This is who the money and the donations go to; that’s what this is all about.”
“We’re donating 10 percent of our sales to Go Red. I said ‘I want this all month; I don’t just want this on Feb. 28,’” Cook added. “I wanted the full deal, and I wanted to end this month with a bang.”
Amid the crowd of red-clad attendees, several workshops were offered, so women could take charge of their health and the real love of their lives — riding.
“What Harley wants us to do is reach out to other customers,” Cook explained. “We have the 45- to 55-year-old male down; they’re already coming in. They’re going to come find us anyway. But women riders, I want those customers to feel involved as well. I mean I’m a lady, and I want to be able to hang out with other ladies.”
In addition to the fashion show, Wild Prairie offered three workshops. The sales department hosted “Spring Into Action,” which featured details about the new 2015 models, including the Street 500. “That’s a perfect little beginner bike,” Cook said. “It’s a good size and it’s a great price point.”
Guests continued on downstairs for “Bright Lights and Bling,” a session put on by the service department. Wild Prairie H-D staff demonstrated how to replace taillights with new LEDs and apply different accessories. “It’s all about empowering yourself,” Cook added. “You don’t need to come to the shop for the little stuff, and you don’t need a guy to do it for you.”
Back at the parts and accessories counter, “Upgrade Your Growl” educated women with tips on how to change pipes and exhaust to get a more powerful growl. Cook agreed that putting a little growl in girl power never hurt anybody. “A lot of women are a little afraid of their growl being too loud,” Cook said. “They’ll ask ‘What is too loud?’ or ‘My husband updated his growl; can I too?’ And our answer is ‘Of course you can; let’s get you going!’”
As part of the event, Cook wanted to make new riders just as comfortable as seasoned ones, with workshops that guided them without making them feel too overwhelmed. “I understood from when we first started this that this is our jumping off point. We can add stuff later, but I didn’t want to overwhelm women right away. I wanted the workshops to be simple.”
The Red Experience
Admittedly, Cook said that Wild Prairie does quite well with sales to women: “We have a really big women market around here, which I love. I especially love the women I meet whose husbands have been riding for years and they say ‘I’m sick of riding on the back!’”
The Go Red For Women event was much more than an attempt to simply get women into the dealership, and selling clothes was not what it was all about, Cook added. “I wanted to make this an event. I wanted to make it special. I want to always give people a reason for coming in, not just a reason to buy. This is an event to show how much we support Go Red and women in general.”
Wild Prairie wanted Go Red For Women to be an experience unlike anything they’d done before. Cook was thrilled with the rider turnout and plans to continue the event on an annual basis. “Now we can capture them. Say that if they liked the workshops, it’s time to get into a Rider’s Academy. Let’s teach you how to ride a bike and get you independent on your own,” added Cook.
Wild Prairie Harley-Davidson has already started planning events from late spring well into the summer. Cook is most excited about Saddle-Up Saturdays, which feature H-D rides every Saturday in the summer time. “No matter what weekends you’re here, we’re going to have an event,” said Cook.
After such a success, Wild Prairie took notes and is already in the planning stages for next year’s Go Red For Women event. Cook hopes that she’ll see more women on the roads this season, perhaps even as a result of this event.
“You want to have freedom. You might get that from a husband or boyfriend, or whomever you’re with, but it’s never the freedom you’re going to feel on a motorcycle,” Cooks said. “This industry needs more women and I want all women to be able to experience that