Former Joplin dealer goes 'all online' after post-tornado looting

Publish Date: 
Jul 16, 2012

JOPLIN, Mo. - It wasn’t exactly last year’s catastrophic tornado that forced Shane Smith to close Smith Family Powersports. But what started as a setback has turned into a more profitable business.

Smith closed his store and moved to selling PG&A online.

“We split the business and moved the online business to Neosho, which turned out to be a lifesaver for us,” he told the Joplin Globe. “Part of why we do online is we don’t trust anymore. There is no shoplifting. We actually don’t sell bikes at all because of that.”

Smith had checked on the store the stormy evening of May 22, 2011, and all was well. Power was out and phone lines were dead, but everything was intact.

 But when he returned in the morning, windows had been broken and merchandise was missing. The power outage meant security cameras weren’t working.

Smith said down time for building repairs, sales that dropped from 50 vehicles a month before the storm to 10 after, and the loss of inventory forced him to close the Joplin dealership in October and lay off two full-time employees.

“In Joplin we were lucky if we sold $6,000 or $7,000 a month in accessories, but now we are averaging about $200,000 in accessories,” he said. “This year we’ve already done $1.3 million in sales and have four full-time employees.”

A suspect in the post-tornado looting spree pleaded guilty on July 6 to one count each of second-degree burglary and stealing  — both class C felonies, according to the newspaper. Three additional counts of stealing were dropped as part of a plea deal that would limit his sentences to seven years on each charge, to run concurrently. He is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 14.

Posted by Holly Wagner