Urban gridlock is no place for a Harley.
With 30 years on West Colfax under its belt, Avalanche Harley-Davidson in Lakewood is gunning for a new spot 10 miles south with more land and the potential for a building twice as big.
General Manager Ryan Sherman said the business has doubled annual motorcycle sales since 2012, thanks to an aggressive advertising strategy more akin to a large car dealership than to other Harley dealers.
But Sherman said his line of work couldn’t be more different from a car dealer’s job.
“I sell fun. Car dealers do not sell fun,” he said. “They sell a need; I sell a want.”
Avalanche, meanwhile, needs more elbow room.
Avalanche is under contract to purchase 6 acres on the southwest corner of West Alameda Parkway and Colorado 470 near Dinosaur Ridge, he said, in a new development that doesn’t even have an address yet.
“We looked at several existing properties and decided this was best for us,” he said. “Being off of C-470 versus being on Colfax – it’s significantly easier access.”
Avalanche will leave in the rearview mirror a stretch of West Colfax that has been Harley country since 1984, when Freedom Harley-Davidson rolled into an old movie theater. Hints of the space’s theatrical past include a light-up marquee fronting Colfax.
Michael Veracka, a partner in six Harley dealerships in the U.S., took over the shop in 2012 and renamed it Avalanche. That title will travel with it to the new location, Sherman said.
These days, the neighborhood is bumper-to-bumper dealerships and repair shops. A Mazda dealer faces Avalanche across West Colfax and G-Force PowerSports is a few blocks down the street.
But the mini Motor City isn’t big enough for Harley anymore. Sherman expects to sell 1,600 bikes by year end – up from 1,300 in 2014 and 800 in 2012 – and since Harley-Davidson asks its shops to maintain a minimum square footage to sales ratio, Avalanche is just about maxed out.
The new 6-acre site will more than double Avalanche’s showroom and garage, Sherman said, from 38,000 to 80,000 square feet.
That means more room for Harley merchandise. Right now, Avalanche can stock up to 800 bikes, $400,000 in apparel and $600,000 in parts, Sherman said. At the new location, the store will increase inventory across the board: space for 1,000 Harleys, $700,000 in clothing and gear, and $800,000 in accessories for tricking out the motorcycles.
Construction should start this February with a tentative grand opening in a year’s time, Sherman said. He said Avalanche has hired a general contractor but hasn’t taken out a bank loan to finance construction. The current location on Colfax will go up for sale, he said.
Currently, there are six Harley-Davidson locations in the Denver metro area. Three of them make up Mile High Harley, a dealership which has shops in Aurora, Parker and at DIA.