Working The Windy City

Chicago Cycle Expands Haehn’s Success

Chicago Cycle is the premier multi-brand super store located in the Chicago Metroplex. Shoppers are greeted by hundreds of 
vehicles spread across a well-lit sales floor that stretches over an acre. Their stock 
encompasses five major brands: Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Ducati.

Chicago Cycle owners Russ and Greg Haehn also own Andrews Cycle in Athens, Ohio, where they have 35 years of experience operating a multi-brand store. With the four Japanese brands, plus Ducati and Polaris in 65,000 sq. ft., they have created a modern day shopping experience for their customers.

Andrews Cycle was built on the philosophy of creating a complete one-stop shopping experience for the motorcycle rider. The experience includes the opportunity to choose from multiple brands, a large inventory ready to ride off the floor, plus a large selection of helmets, jackets, boots and gloves to make sure people are properly outfitted, and a F&I department to help make it happen.

Looking to grow, Russ and Greg identified several major metropolitan markets where there wasn’t a multi-brand superstore. Looking in depth at the Chicago marketplace, they saw no motorcycle superstore other than a couple Harley-Davidson dealerships. In the spring of 2004, Russ and Greg purchased a dealer that had all five brands crowded in a small space (formerly a small supermarket) on Western Avenue in Chicago. They saw the opportunity to create the all-in-one, complete retail shopping experience for the motorcycle rider in a major metropolitan city with a much larger market than the Athens store. With their five most popular brands, they reached approximately 75 percent of the marketplace.

In May 2005 they created the Chicago super store when they moved into their new home on Touhy Avenue in Skokie, a Chicago suburb. The store is 92,000 sq. ft. The parts and accessories department alone covers over 15,000 sq. ft., bigger than most competing facilities.  The store is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. during the week and on Saturday and Sunday.  Most motorcycle stores in the market are closed on Sundays and on Mondays.  

The store is a frequent destination ride on Sunday, resulting in Sunday sales sometimes exceeding those on Saturday. Walking in the door, you are greeted by bikes that stretch across the horizon! A smiling receptionist will offer to check your jacket and helmet to make it easier to enjoy the shopping experience.

Their largest sales are in cruisers and sportbikes with the balance in four wheelers and scooters. Wearables and LoJacks are an important part of the sale.

Russ believes in hiring experienced people in every department. His department heads all have more than 25 years of industry experience. All employees wear shirts that readily identify them as employees. The showroom, service area, bathrooms and changing rooms are kept spotless. High ceilings add to the impressive feeling you get the moment you walk in the store. During the season, there are approximately 12-15 people in sales, 10 in parts, nine in service including six techs, four in F&I, four in accounting and two receptionists.

During the summer, the store will host two or three large events. The biggest is the Q101 Sherman Rocket ride that attracts approximately 2,500 riders. Casino nights are often held on Thursday nights.

Its huge inventory of new bikes and accessories as well as the long hours attract buyers from four states and as far away as St. Louis. With the increase of female riders, the store really appeals to this market, carrying  a large inventory of jackets, pants, gloves, helmets and boots for women. The store also does its own assembly, so 
the inventory on the selling floor is ready to be ridden out the door.

During the height of the market in 2007, the store was selling and delivering an average of 500 bikes a month. The economy, poor spring weather and lack of financing for retail sales have significantly affected business over the last two years. This year, sales are increasing so far thanks to good spring weather in Chicago.

The Haehns brothers’ operational philosophy is to do right for the customer. It starts with selecting the right bike, then fitting the right helmet and handling any service issues. With its central location, large inventory  and long hours the Chicago Cycle superstore is well positioned to meet the needs of riders in the Chicagoland market.

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