Thursday, June 21, 2007

"Harley Lifestyle"

The new Harley shop is open, and it's time to celebrate. 54,000 square feet.

They've come a long way since Bob Blazier had a poorly-lit, greasy little Harley shop down on Chinden. (Not at the most recent location - it used to be a waterbed store.)

The new Harley shop is much more than a place to buy a motorcycle, or a part, or get your hog fixed.

According to the website, the new showroom "is a wonderland of audio/visual Harley-Davidson stimulation. The store is wired with a Boze [sic] sound-system and flat screen televisions abound. The 'Buell Experience Center' plays continuous Buell racing footage and the 'Design Center' features on-screen displays that let you see how accessories will look on your bike before you buy! 'This entire showroom is dedicated to the customer experience,' exclaims owner Dave Thomas, 'It's designed to make owning a Harley easier, more accessible, and more fun.'

"To increase the fun-factor, the new dealership also includes a customer lounge, 'The Kickstand,' that comes complete with an outdoor picnic area, fireplace, big screen TV, pool table, and customer putting green! The lounge, itself is three-times larger than Harley-Davidson recommends for a store this size."

Is that "The Harley Lifestyle" in 2007? Watching videos of people riding motorcycles on HDTV (Harley-Definition)? Billiards on the Harley pool table? Harley golf balls? Hangin' out at the 3-times-as-big-as-recommended Harley Lounge, talking about riding motorcycles?

In an article in the daily newspaper, customer Becky Godfrey says they visited the old store at least once a week. "It's more of a family thing. We'll see who is down there, if anyone wants to go for a ride. If we don't get down there once a week, we feel like we're neglecting the family."

Yep, the times they are a-changin'.

Back in the day, you went to the shop to get your bike fixed, or to get a part, so you could ride. Riding was what defined the "Harley Lifestyle." If you wanted to hang out at the shop for awhile, more likely than not you'd have to move a grease-blackened cardboard box full of pistons and rods, random bolts and washers, and maybe a carburetor or manifold off the stool before sitting down. Just set it on the grease-blackened counter, or on the pile of similar greasy parts boxes already sitting in the corner. If you had clean clothes on, it was best not to touch anything. Now that was a Harley shop!

On the local TV news, they were recently interviewing one of the local owners about their new Harley boutique. He said something like, "Harley-Davidson is the only brand logo that people have tattooed on their skin."

Which begs the question - is there a tattoo chair at the new facility?

Another question. Are you just a "poser" if you don't have the tattoo, or wear Harley bluejeans, or play Harley Pool, eat Harley barbecue, and watch Harley TV? Do you have to do all that stuff to truly embrace the "Harley Lifestyle," or can you just ride?

Idaho Statesman article
High Desert HD website

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