More than 1,300 people ride in the 17th Annual Bikers for Babies Ride on Sunday from North Collier Regional Park in Naples to Six Bends Harley-Davidson in Fort Myers. Proceeds from the ride benefit the March of Dimes. Kinfay Moroti/news-press.com
Two classic motorcycle brands will soon have a home under one roof in south Fort Myers.
The 15,000-square-foot Stu’s Motorcycles will be just west of Sun Harvest Citrus.
The store is the first of its kind in Southwest Florida. The closest Indian dealership is 100 miles away in St. Petersburg; the closest Triumph dealership is also in St. Petersburg.
“We’ve been working on the project for a long time,” said Stu Rosenberg, the Fort Myers franchisee, along with his wife Barbara. “It takes a long time to put it all together.”
The building’s shell is complete, but it still needs to be outfitted inside.
“Getting the architectural drawings and the engineering and all that to get permits has taken a long time,” he said. “Plus working with Indian and Triumph, trying to get all the procedures and processes to make this work.”
The dealership is the latest in a series of projects popping up or on the drawing board along the Six Mile Cypress corridor. Others include the Whole Foods at Daniels Parkway, senior living and hospice facilities and a Top Golf location, among others.
Gary Tasman, a commercial real estate expert and broker with Cushman & Wakefield, called it a “continuation of the maturation of the central-south Lee County commercial market.”
“You can’t go out on U.S. 41 with those kinds of developments because there’s just no more land available,” he said. “If you go out to I-75, it’s a good alternative, but there are limited opportunities. With the demographics and the traffic patterns, it makes sense, and that corridor goes all the way out to Colonial Boulevard.”
The Rosenbergs, who live in Estero, founded Raleigh, N.C.-based SRI Shoes in 1991. Their daughter Samantha Rosenberg Griffin has taken over day-to-day operations of the shoe business, now called SRI Shoe Warehouse, allowing the couple the opportunity to be involved in the dealership.
So why motorcycles? Stu Rosenberg, an avid rider, has done consulting work in the motorcycle business and learned a lot about it along the way. Barbara brings marketing experience.
“I know and am very close to the owners of five or six Harley stores and BMW stores,” he said. “I worked with them in business facets and during that have been learning more and more every year about the motorcycle business. I even worked as a GM for a while.”
That got him interested in owning a motorcycle dealership. He has already hired a general manager who has a lot of experience with Triumph, while Rosenberg brings the experience with Indian.
Indian and Triumph will have their own dedicated spaces in the store. Each will have a seating area, a coffee bar and merchandise.
“The things Triumph is very big on is modern classic, which could also be a retro look, but with the modern technology and also strong in sport bikes and adventure bikes, whereas Indian is strong on touring bikes, cruising bikes and they have one particular kind of look that they’ve brought back,” he said.
That motorcycle is called the Indian Scout, originally built from 1920 to 1949. It rivaled Chief as Indian’s most important model. In 2011, Polaris Industries bought the Indian Motorcycle Company. For the 2015 model year, it introduced a new Scout model.
“The Indian is a brand that has come back over the past 10 years,” he said. “These brands don’t run into each other. People have different tastes.”
Indian is gaining share in the motorcycle market, with Polaris reporting Indian crossed over the 10 percent threshold in September.
Harley-Davidson, of course, remains the biggest name in motorcycles with about half the market share, though it is losing ground, according to the latest sales figures.
Rosenberg expects Harley to be the biggest competition, with the Six Bends Harley-Davidson and Naples Harley-Davidson doing business in the region, along with Bert’s Black Widow Harley-Davidson in Port Charlotte.
“Harley overall has a strong part of the overall market in all parts of the country,” he said. “They have the largest market share. It’s going to have an impact.”
Even though Stu’s Motorcycles will be in south Fort Myers, he thinks it’s a great place to compete.
“I wanted to cover this whole market,” he said. “The idea is to be centrally located in the Naples-Fort Myers market and I felt like that was a good location.”
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