One of the great things about having a well-connected and independently wealthy old lady who owns a technology company is that I get invited along on some great business trips. It is tough, but I manage to look pretty for the job and try to hide the fact that my fingernails have some grease under them and I don’t regularly shave. Last week, I got the chance to go to the Bahamas and hang out in a client’s “guest house” for a few days while she was doing work and that was when I discovered that the island of Grand Bahama, which takes up less space than the county that I live in, has not one, but two Harley dealerships.
Now bear in mind that I didn’t see any Harleys on the road – a bunch of scooters, one four wheeler, and an ancient Jap bike that looked like it was either about to die or had just been brought back. It was somewhere between going and gone. But not one modern bike and none bearing the H-D badge.
The real humor, though, was the fact that neither of these dealerships had more than 6 bikes on display. The walls were lined with merchandise, though, dozens of styles of shirts, riding gear, leather (in the tropics?), you name it. If you could stamp a “Harley-Davidson” on it, they sold it.
Except for bikes. Even though the display models were all new, they were obviously not going anywhere. Hell, the dealerships didn’t even have a proper parking lot and certainly didn’t have a place to try to take a test drive.
Now, some of you guys might throw out the idea that the exchange rate is such that it’s a great play for the tourist trade, but that actually doesn’t work in the Bahamas – their dollar has the same value as the American dollar – a true 1-1 exchange.
Nope, these dealerships were more like a big t-shirt stand that had a few extras. I didn’t dare to ask the guy what he rode, but I did note that there were no bikes in the parking lot. I’m also not even sure that he would have known how to sell a bike if I could have bought one or if anybody could have fixed one if I needed service. Even more importantly, given that the Bahamas use the English road rules – driving on the left hand side of the road, I’m not sure I would’ve been comfortable driving a car, much less a bike on them. To add insult to injury, given the driving skills I saw displayed on the Bahamian roads, I would’ve felt comfortable driving a D-9 Caterpillar, but nothing much smaller.
These cats were crazy. The one (and I do mean ONE) sane cabdriver was driving slowly because he had lost fourth gear and this had to stay in third … at all speeds. This while he was singing Gospel tunes under his breath.
It was awesome – as long as you didn’t need to buy parts for your bike.
On the other hand, I have to give it to whomever put those two stores there – they knew that we, as Harley fans – like to spend money, and if we’re someplace cool, we want a t-shirt from that dealership.
So while they couldn’t have fixed my bike if I needed it, they sure took my credit card for the three shirts I bought.
Keep the shiny side up and if you find yourself in Freeport, check out the Harley dealership with the smallest selection of bikes on the planet.