NEW LONDON, Conn. - The urge to expand is all bottled up at Mike's Famous Harley-Davidson, which is preparing to move across the Thames River to a former Coca-Cola bottling plant.
The new dealership will be one of the largest in the Northeast when it opens in December. Dealer principal Mike Schwartz told The Day the 55,000 sq. ft. building on nearly five acres will be his new business headquarters, more than quadrupling the size of the current store in Groton he’ll leave behind.
"The attractiveness of the building was the grittiness of the warehouse. This building is the perfect backdrop for the products that we sell," he said.
He plans to incorporate many of the building's existing features, including tongue-and-groove ceilings, warehouse-style windows and steel trusses, into the showroom design. The idea is to highlight the building's inherent beauty using found objects and reclaimed materials.
Schwartz looked at other sites in New London and East Lyme before closing the $550,000 deal for the 1938 landmark building with Coca-Cola Bottling Co. of Southeastern New England. The building served as a bottling operation for more than half a century.
Schwartz said the building has enough space for a showroom to display more than 200 motorcycles, ATVs and watercraft. It also will allow for a drive-in service and parts operation and more storage space. The store is expected to employ as many as 40 people, about double the numbers that work in the Groton store during the peak season.
Schwartz bought the former New London County Motorcycle Sales in Groton in 2004 and the following year started looking for a site big enough to host large events.
"It's an iconic building, an iconic brand," Schwartz said. "Coca-Cola and Harley-Davidson are two of the most iconic American brands in the world."
Posted by Holly Wagner