LARGO, Fla. - Bob Fletcher's Harley-Davidson has closed after 48 years of family ownership and operations.
Less than two months after Fletcher's death, the dealership's franchise ended July 31. The daughters who have run the store since Fletcher retired in 1986 said they could not keep up with the cost of OEM-required improvements.
"We're a family company, and the new way of doing everything with corporate would have changed the way we do business," Laura Fletcher-Taylor told the Tampa Bay Times.
During the boom years the dealer bought eight acres adjacent to the dealership for a planned expansion, but the recession and road construction scuttled those plans. Now the family must try to sell the property, bought for $5 million and appraising now at half that total.
Fletcher-Taylor said mandated changes to meet new corporate standards were more than the business could afford. For example, changes to a merchandise wall would have cost $150,000.
"We needed then to put the focus on employees and health care," Fletcher-Taylor said, "not replacing something that works."
Tuesday was Fletcher's last day as a Harley franchise, ending the shop's incoming shipments and all warranty work. The dealership is expected to remain open for another month selling PG&A, discounted so far by 20 percent. Later it will be sold. Its 35 employees are looking for new jobs. The owners are closing their Fletcher's Clearwater Beach boutique.
Posted by Holly Wagner