Southside Harley-Davidson in Indianapolis will celebrate its 65th year next October. Through the decades, the company has seen many customers, two locations and four generations of employees from the same family.
Though George Schulteti first took ownership in 1947, he became part of the Harley-Davidson family in 1922 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At the time, he owned a Harley-Davidson bicycle, and when he couldn’t find a replacement part at a local bike shop, he went straight to the nearby factory. The plant’s guard explained to him that he would have to go to a dealership, and Schulteti explained to him that was unacceptable. Founder William A. Davidson heard the lively discussion from a nearby office and not only provided Schulteti with the part, but also a promise that if he wanted a job there, he could have it. Two days later, the 16-year-old Schulteti took him up on the offer.
In 1947, Schulteti joined forces with Max Colville, an Illinois dealer, and the two bought John Morgan Harley-Davidson in Indianapolis. For more on the company’s fascinating history, read it here.
Sherry Long, advertising and marketing director (and fourth generation family employee), explains the company will hold a special event next October to commemorate the anniversary, although they have no specifics yet.
She says the company was located downtown on Meridian Street for 50 years, but moved to the current location (4930 Southport Crossing Place) in 1998 to gain more space.
When asked how the business has changed over the years, Long explains that in the early years, riders rode year-round.
"They used the bike as transportation, not as much for recreation like most riders do today," she says. "However, now there are many more riders. For a lot of years people who rode motorcycles got a bad rap… but over the last 20-plus years the image of motorcyclists has changed a lot and has become much more socially acceptable. Riders are a much more diverse group of people from all walks of life."
She contends some people might be surprised by the environment of the motorcycle shop.
"Some think of a shop as a dirty, greasy place," Long explains. "But we’re a full-service retail shop with general merchandise, collectibles, clothing, apparel, parts and accessories as well as service. We have a wide variety of items for men, women, kids, pets and the bikes."
Long adds that there are more women Harley-Davidson riders now, and about 13% of Southside’s buyers are women (a number she believes is comparable to the national average). She says it seems women riders are jumping onboard and feeling the thrill of riding their own bikes at a faster rate more than ever before.
"We’re also getting more 20 to 30 somethings interested now — more than just the 40-50-year-olds," Long adds. "That’s something Harley-Davidson has been focusing on. Getting younger people to understand there are many options available to add their own individual style to the bikes."
If you’re a Hoosier motorcycle enthusiast or looking for a fun new adventure, visit Southside Harley-Davidson online to see what it has to offer. You can also follow the company on Facebook and Twitter.