One of the most high-profile, high-volume snowmobile dealerships in the country has burned – again.
Nelson’s Speed Shop, one of the few dealerships in the country to sell all four major brands of snowmobiles — Arctic Cat, Polaris, Ski-Doo and Yamaha — as well as other powersports and lawn and garden brands, suffered a major fire overnight. It’s the second time in 11 years that the Greenville, Mich.-area dealership has suffered from a devastating blaze.
Local media reports say the fire was first reported at about 1:30 a.m. this morning and reported flames shooting 40-50 feet into the air. Ten fire departments responded to the fire, but with the nearest water main two miles away, there wasn’t much hope. TV coverage and photos of the fire on WOOD-TV can be found here and on Fox17 here. Initial reports indicate the fire likely started toward the back of the building.
Owner Jack Nelson was interviewed by WZZM-TV and described the building as a complete loss. The TV station reported that Nelson “said he hasn’t even started thinking ahead yet to what he will do in terms of rebuilding or keeping the business.” When Nelson’s burned in 2001, the owner continued selling sleds, ATVs and other products out of trailers until the new facility could be built. A new, much larger store opened at the same location slightly less than a year later.
A couple of years after that fire, two men were charged and convicted of arson, and one had ties to a competing motorcycle repair shop up the road from Nelson’s.
The Nelson’s Speed Shop dealership dates back to 1971, and it has become a major powerhouse in Michigan.
Beyond that, Jack Nelson and his crew have never hesitated to think big – including hosting the Snow Motion blowout every late summer. It includes a summer snocross race on real snow. Some of that snow is buried in the winter and retrieved, but Nelson’s has also brought in huge tents, nitrogen tanks and massive equipment to create snow in 90-degree temperatures. The event often attracts more than 10,000 sledheads to the dealership for a summer celebration of snowmobiling, as well as a massive sale.
Losses in the 2001 fire were estimated at $2.5 million. With the larger dealership that houses a lot more product, total losses in this fire could run quite a bit higher.