Blue Moon Cycle, located in Norcross, an Atlanta suburb, is a unique business concept. Owner John Landstrom sells vintage motorcycles and BMW parts all over the world. He also sells new and vintage sidecars. In addition to all of this, he has been running a full-service BMW dealership since1995. And to think that it all started with a deer — that’s right. Bambi.
Landstrom worked his way through college as a mechanic, graduated, and went to work spinning wrenches for a dealership until the fateful day that he went for a ride and hit that deer. The impact broke his leg, and while he was recuperating, John started restoring old BMW motorcycles.
At the time, few people were professionally restoring BMWs. John was soon so busy he didn’t have to worry about going back to his old job. The restoration business grew from his basement to a small shop, and then to his present location. With the larger space, adding the dealership made sense.
He has three distinct groups of customers who all need different treatment. The vintage customers do most of their own work and depend on Blue Moon for parts. “We are one of the largest suppliers of 1950 to 1975 BMW parts in the United States,” says John proudly. Most of the vintage customers are out of the area, so Blue Moon uses its website as a powerful sales tool for these customers. Several photos and extensive information about each vintage bike for sale are posted on the website, which also features a vintage BMW parts catalog.
The sidecar customers are a more diverse crowd. Many are older people interested in the security of an extra wheel, but others are young families who want a sidecar for the kids. All of these customers share an interest in comfort and safety. The dealership sells vintage sidecars sourced in Europe, and is one of the few U.S. dealers of new Steib sidecars, made in Germany to EU standards.
The third, and largest group, new BMW customers, tend to be high-mileage enthusiasts who ride year-round, no matter the weather. “We get a lot of professionals, airline pilots and engineers. Our customers are interested in performance and safety. They are interested in technical features, such as GPS, ABS braking systems, and now traction control,” says John. “My customers don’t customize their motorcycles much, with the exception of the dual sport riders who want suspension mods and more lighting. BMW owners are very good about maintaining their motorcycles, and most prefer to have the maintenance done at the dealership level.”
John has survived the economic slowdown by catering to a very diverse customer base, by avoiding debt as much as possible, and by reducing inventory somewhat. He has also reduced overhead by concentrating on less expensive forms of publicity. “Events and public relations are cheap. TV and print ads and radio are expensive. I have cut way down on radio and TV advertising, and hold open houses instead. I go to shows and auctions and race my vintage sidecar outfit occasionally,” he continues. Despite the gloomy economic clouds, John feels there is some sunshine ahead. “BMW Motorrad USA has a new vice president, Pieter de Waal. I and many other dealers are looking forward to working under the new leadership. I feel we are being listened to as dealers, and that he has initiated policies that are more sympathetic to the economic situation and to BMW motorcycle dealers in general,” says John. “For example, we are faced with an aging customer base. BMW promises bikes that will be attractive to the youth market — at competitive prices. I am looking forwards to the S1000RR, a competitive superbike.”
Despite the state of the economy, John Landstrom still likes to go to work every day. “I love motorcycles, I love my customers and I have a cohesive staff. Dealing with angry people is drudgery. I strive to keep my customers — all of them — happy. Working in the motorcycle industry has always been challenging and rewarding. Now more than ever we need to focus on every facet of the business. I see a bright outlook for the next year,” concludes John.