SOUTHAMPTON — Harley-Davidson of Southampton will close its doors and ride off into the sunset later this month, a victim of weak sales that only worsened during the coronavirus pandemic.
“Thanks for a great ride,” the motorcycle dealership said in a Facebook post this week announcing the decision to close on Sept. 15.
The business, which relocated from Easthampton to Southampton in 1998, is the last Harley-Davidson dealership in the Pioneer Valley.
“The decision did not come lightly, but facing this difficult year with the pandemic and struggles it has brought on, we decided it was time,” co-owner Aaron Patrick said in a written statement.
Patrick and his wife, Monica, have owned the dealership since 2007, with Patrick having worked in the industry for 26 years.
Patrick said that the COVID-19 pandemic has hurt sales, and that it influenced them to close the business and retire. He added that sales were declining even before the pandemic, a decline he attributes to new people not learning about motorcycles.
“It’s the introduction to the motorcycle industry that we’re missing,” he said.
Patrick, 57, has been riding motorcycles since he was a kid. The Patricks live in Westhampton, where they moved from Florida. After purchasing the Southampton dealership 13 years ago, the pair bought four more dealerships. Now the Southampton dealership is the only one they have left.
Southampton Select Board Chairwoman Maureen Groden described the dealership closing as “kind of a sign of the times.”
“Everyone’s been hit really hard by this pandemic,” Groden said.
She also said that losing the dealership will hurt the town’s tax base. “It’s definitely a huge loss for us,” Groden said.
Patrick said that the business employs about 10 people, though at one time it had 30-35 people on its payroll.
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“We wouldn’t be here without our employees,” said Patrick, noting that he will recommend them for jobs at other dealerships. “They’re just being troopers.”
“We’re all very sad,” said Dan Guarnieri, the dealership’s finance manager.
The Patricks own the building at 17 College Highway that houses the dealership, and they’re looking to lease it.
Patrick has been riding motorcycles since he was a child, and his father rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles. His favorite motorcycle that he sells is the Road Glide, and he rides one himself.
Mike Golemo has bought two bikes from the dealership, once when it was located in Easthampton and once in Southampton.
“I’m not happy about it closing,” he said. “It is our only dealership in the area.”
Golemo said, however, that he doesn’t use dealerships for repairs often because of the expense.
Paula Dane and Laurie Ferry stopped by the dealership Friday, prompted by a gift card. Although Dane hadn’t bought a bike from them, Ferry has purchased three.
“I think somebody else should take it over,” said Ferry, a sentiment Dane agreed with.
The two friends travel across the country together on motorcycles, with Dane having recently ridden from Yellowstone to western Massachusetts.
Patrick said that he and his wife intend to stay around the area “and see what our next adventures will bring.”
The dealership has done a number of charity events over the years, and is currently running a raffle to benefit the Holyoke Soldiers’ Home. The bike being raffled is a 2020 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe, the tickets for which are $20. The drawing is set to take place on Nov. 7.
“It’s a commitment we made and something we want to finish with,” said Patrick.