Restaurants, T-shirt shops rev up during Four Corners Motorcycle Rally

Saturday, Sept. 8, 2018 9:09 PM
A more professionally run Four Corners Motorcycle Rally bodes well for commerce down the road, said Jack Llewellyn, executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce.
Robert Ekwall of Farmington, left, welcomed friends from Rock Springs, Wyoming, Archie Bingham, center, and his wife, Peggy, for a four-day visit prompted by the Four Corners Motorcycle Rally.
Jerry McBride/Durango Herald

08-24-18- Durango- Nick Senti, left, Billy Chedsey, center, and Tony Parent get in practice laps before the Saturday’s Four Corners Motorcycle Rally Hooligan Dirt Race in the rodeo area at the La plate County Fairgrounds. About 60 riders were registered to race to circle track.

The Four Corners Motorcycle Rally appears to have met one of its prime missions: boosting late-summer sales for merchants, at least for some Durango merchants.

Motorcyclists seem to have kept the doors spinning at restaurants and T-shirt shops, but specialty shops seemed to have seen less of an impact from the thundering herd that descended on Durango and Ignacio for the Labor Day holiday.

“We actually started getting a bump Thursday. We were super busy Friday, and Friday night, all our customers were bikers. Saturday, again, we had a lot of biker groups,” said Scott Finzer, general manager of the Lone Spur Cafe, 619 Main Ave.

The cafe started with an advantage, Finzer said. It already had a strong following from local motorcyclists. “They like the Western décor, and they bring their friends when they are here,” he said.

Olde Tymers, 1000 Main Avenue, and Durango T-Shirt Co., 615 Main Ave., both saw noticeable jumps in sales.

“It was a lot busier than last summer, and it seemed a lot louder as well,” said Kim Clay, an employee at Durango T-shirt Co.

Mike Shepherd, general manager of Olde Tymers Café, said he saw a bump from the same week in 2017, when a much smaller rally was organized with only a few weeks preparation by Durango Harley-Davidson owner Trevor Bird.

“It was not as crazy as it was years ago, but we did see more business,” Shepherd said. “It used to be something we counted on for the end of the season,” he said.

Lisa Harris, an employee at the Durango Rug Co., 747 Main Ave., said she did not expect a bump in sales from the rally, as it’s hard to take home a rug on a motorcycle.

If anything, the store endured the rally with its associated rumbling and revving of engines.

“It was really loud. We have wide open windows, so that may have been a problem. Nothing against bikers, but when they’re in town, it’s loud,” she said.

Andrea Avantaggio, co-owner of Maria’s Bookshop, 960 Main Ave., said the shop had a busy Labor Day weekend, but she said a lot of business was from other people in town, like families bringing their kids to Fort Lewis College and the FLC-hosted mountain biking event at Purgatory.

Peggy Bingham of Rock Springs, Wyoming, in town for the rally, said if downtown catered more to bikers, even the specialty shops would get a sales bump.

“I think if downtown would have made more of the event, if they catered to the bikers, if they had music downtown, if they had parking downtown, they would have kicked butt,” she said of downtown shops.

Her husband, Archie Bingham, said “weekend riders” have plenty of money.

“If you catered to them downtown, a lot of the specialty shops would have made more money,” he said.

Jack Llewellyn, executive director of the Durango Chamber of Commerce, is looking for better motorcycle rallies in the future with Bird now operating and managing the affair.

“It definitely helps having Trevor Bird take on the rally. It will be a good thing for the community,” he said.

This year’s rally, he said, was more polished and organized, something that will benefit commerce in both Durango and Ignacio going forward.