American Harley-Davidson dealership in Ann Arbor closes due to falling sales
American Harley-Davidson dealership on Jackson Road, selling the iconic heavyweight motorcycles in Ann Arbor for nearly 25 years, has closed.
The store's operations have been consolidated into a sister location on Whitmore Lake Road near Brighton, a location visible from US-23.
The weak economy proved just too much for Harley buyers, many of whom work in the hard-hit auto and other manufacturing industries, said George Delanuez, general manager of both the Ann Arbor and Brighton stores.
Sales at the Ann Arbor store have fallen 30 to 40 percent for each of the past two years, he said.
The store’s last day was Saturday, and equipment and merchandise from the Ann Arbor dealership was still being moved today to the Brighton store, located about 20 miles north.
The 20,000-square-foot building - located on Jackson Avenue, just east of Zeeb Road - will be placed on the market, Delanuez said.
The Ann Arbor store was the first in Michigan to follow Harley-Davidson corporate request to consolidate dealerships, Delanuez said. “There just aren’t the motorcycle sales for so many dealers.”
Unlike many other dealerships, Ann Arbor was in a position to merge with a relatively close sister store, Delanuez said. Both stores are owned by Charlie Stephenson, who lives in Tulsa, OK. Stephenson bought the Ann Arbor dealership four years ago. Nine of the 17 employees from the Ann Arbor dealership will be transferred to the Brighton store, Delanuez said. He said he is trying to secure jobs for the rest at other Harley dealerships around the state.
“Michigan Harley dealers are very close and work to help each other,” Delanuez said.
Harley-Davidson as a company has suffered from the economic downturn. Harley sales in the United States dropped 26 percent between 2008 and 2009, according to the company’s annual report. The company projected the number of motorcycles shipped in 2010 would fall another 5 to 10 percent. A production facility in York, PA was restructured and the number of test facilities was reduced from three to one in 2009, according to the report.
In the past two years, 50 Harley dealerships around the country have closed, Delanuez said, with another 50 headed for closing.