Buffalo Harley-Davidson on Saturday closed its longtime Amherst location as part of a long-planned consolidation of its local operations at its Orchard Park dealership.
Officials with the dealership said they had been planning the move for the past decade.
After noticing more of their customer base was located in the Southtowns, they decided 10 years ago to open a satellite office at 140 Mid County Drive in Orchard Park and to gradually ramp up operations there in preparation for closing the location at 4220 Bailey Ave., said vice president John Brinkworth Jr.
The Orchard Park store, like the Amherst location, sells Harley motorcycles, motorcycle parts, clothing and accessories and has a service department. It will have about 20 employees but about five Buffalo Harley-Davidson employees, primarily from the parts and sales departments, lost their jobs following the consolidation, Brinkworth said.
Prior to the consolidation, the Orchard Park store had 15 employees and the Amherst store had 15 employees during the summer but that number shrank during the winter.
Buffalo Harley-Davidson is the eighth-oldest Harley dealership in the world, Brinkworth said. The dealership opened in 1921.
Brinkworth’s parents bought the dealership in 1979. His father, John F. Sr., started with Buffalo Harley-Davidson as a mechanic.
The original location was at Jefferson Avenue and East North Street. The dealership moved in 1962 to Bailey and Rounds avenues, and again in 2000 to its current location on Bailey south of Longmeadow Road in the former Gardner Furniture Building in Eggertsville.
Brinkworth said dealership officials as far back as 2003 saw the shifting of their market as they analyzed data on registered motorcycles provided by Harley-Davidson.
“The Orchard Park, the Hamburg and the West Seneca ZIP codes have the highest motorcycle registrations in Erie County and that’s where the greatest amount of sales are now, too,” he said. In the county, West Seneca is No. 1, Hamburg is second and Orchard Park is third for Harleys in operation, said Brinkworth, who declined to reveal internal corporate data.
This prompted them to decide to invest in a second location in Orchard Park, near Quaker Crossing, which opened in 2007, with the idea of preparing their customers for the eventual switch to a Southtowns site. Buffalo Harley-Davidson never needed two locations, Brinkworth said.
“The stores were so close to each other,” he said, and the majority of their customers lived in between.
Once the dealership moves all of its inventory and other items out of the Bailey Avenue store, it plans in about a month to list the 50,000-square-foot building for sale, Brinkworth said. It is assessed for $ 1.67 million, according to town records.
“I don’t want to be a landlord,” Brinkworth said.