‘Thanks for a great ride’: Last Harley-Davidson dealership in area to close

  • Aaron Patrick, co-owner of Harley-Davidson of Southampton, talks about his decision to close the store outside the dealership at 17 College Highway. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Laurie Ferry, left, and Paula Dane talk outside Harley-Davidson of Southampton last week. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Laurie Ferry, left, and Paula Dane talk outside Harley-Davidson of Southampton last week. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Mike Golemo of Chicopee pauses from shopping last week to talk about the closing of Harley-Davidson of Southampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Dan Guarnieri, finance manager at Harley-Davidson of Southampton, enjoys a little levity as he works the counter at the dealership last week. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Chris Calaf Jr., left, a salesman at Harley-Davidson of Southampton, talks to David Morfit, center, and Richard Walbridge of Tolland, Conn., in the showroom last week. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Brian Robinson of South Hadley talks about the closing of Harley-Davidson of Southampton. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

  • Harley-Davidson of Southampton at 17 College Highway. Aaron Patrick, co-owner of the dealership, has decided to close. STAFF PHOTO/JERREY ROBERTS

Staff Writer
Published: 9/8/2020 5:14:33 PM

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 pandemic.

“Thanks for a great ride,” the motorcycle dealership said in a Facebook post last 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 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 child, and his father rode Harley-Davidson motorcycles. His favorite motorcycle that he sells is the Road Glide, and he rides one himself.

The Patricks live in Westhampton, where they moved from Florida. After buying the Southampton dealership 13 years ago, the couple bought four more dealerships. Now the Southampton dealership is the only one they have left.

Southampton Selectboard Chair 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 losing the dealership will hurt the town’s tax base.

“It’s definitely a huge loss for us,” Groden said.

Patrick said the business employs about 10 people, though at one time it had 30 to 35 people on its payroll.

“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.

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 last week, 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, to which Dane agreed.

The two friends travel across the country together on motorcycles, with Dane having recently ridden from Yellowstone to Western Massachusetts.

Patrick said he and his wife intend to stay around the area “and see what our next adventures will bring.”

The dealership has held numerous 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,” Patrick said of finishing the raffle, “and something we want to finish with.”

Bera Dunau can be reached at bdunau@gazettenet.com.


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