#344 Celebrating Brick and Mortar

Canadian Biker #344 Amazing restoration, BMW R18, LiveWire finally, touring the Alps

Celebrating Brick and Mortar : I was invited to an open house at Action Motorcycles here in Victoria this summer. The store, which sells multiple lines, had dramatically increased their showroom space by adding an upper floor filled wall to wall with a varied selection of clothing and motorcycle accessories. The pre-existing floor space below had been opened up to better house the many brands the store sells and give each marque a little space of its own (that strong desire by manufacturers to have their own space can’t be understated). 

There has been a lot of consolidation in the motorcycle retail business in Victoria, which reflects the strong trend that exists across Canada in the industry. In the last few years, three of the local motorcycle shops have been bought up by external groups with various links to automotive retailers. The trend is neither good or bad, it is just a part of the new reality. 

Being an independent shop must be a challenge so it was heartening to see Action take a leap of faith in the motorcycle retail world—and the motorcycle world in general. It must have been that vibe that brought a few bigwigs from the head offices out to our neck of the woods seeking some real positive grassroots good news. It is in the manufacturers’ interest to foster a strong and enthusiastic retailer network and this little celebration was an example of that.   

As we mentioned in the last issue, it is the used bike market that is taking a stronger and stronger position in the industry with sales figures several multiples higher than that of the new bike market. 

But there has to be new bikes in order for there to eventually be used bikes and dealers needed to service those used bikes. Not every rider has the knowledge or desire to do their own wrenching. 

And all those riders choosing a used machine, whether they buy privately or at a dealer, are going to need (jackets, boots, gloves and helmets. So Action was onto something here. 

There is bound to be more consolidation of the motorcycle retail business in the years to come. Will it become like the automotive side where one company owns 10, 20 or more retailers across the country? That’s doubtful, as there isn’t that many motorcycle dealers across the country. In some markets that influx of automotive dollars might make the difference between having a dealer and not having a dealer. The Toronto market is a prime example of that conundrum—one where it is just too expensive to buy, build and maintain a presence in the industry on motorcycles alone.

The days of motorcycle shops being small, cramped and cluttered, a little dark and full of character have probably gone. That image likely scared off as many customers as it attracted. Those fabled new riders would quickly eschew that choice for the perceived safety and convenience of going online and buying whatever from their phone or computer. Albeit it might be necessary to send that pair of gloves back three times before getting the size and quality right. But hey, they didn’t have to go into that scary shop—the kind of shop that mostly doesn’t exist anymore.  

Motorcycle shops are facing the same internet-bred challenges, which is why it was good to see a local dealer betting on the brick and mortar approach of having the product on hand for touching and sizing. As another industry that is being challenged by the never ending push for online buying, we say good on you Action Motorcycles and we wish you the best of luck. Don’t get too successful though or some deep-pocketed car guys might come looking for a bargain of their own.

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