WILLIAMSTOWN - A local motorcycle shop is celebrating its opening of a newer and bigger facility.
After more than a year of work, S&P Harley-Davidson on Access Road outside of Williamstown opened to the public Thursday morning with many motorcycle fans in attendance.
"I took a day's vacation just to see this new shop," said Judy Gaston of Ritchie County. "My husband, John, and I are huge Harley fans and couldn't pass up the opportunity to come here."
Customers look at Harley-Davidsons in the showroom of the new S&P Harley-Davidson on Access Road Thursday. The store and service center opened on Thursday.
Formerly in Marietta, the new center, on top of a hill overlooking Interstate 77 and West Virginia 31, is 24,000 square feet and includes a store, service shop and meeting rooms for employees and the local Harley-Davidson owners group, Borderline H.O.G. Borderline members donated more than 1,000 hours of work on the new building and helped owners Steve and Patsy Hardy decide what was wanted and needed in a Harley-Davidson shop and service center.
"We even have a full customer lounge area with a working fireplace, sofas, a kitchen area and restrooms," Patsy said. "We really designed this shop to be a destination."
The location for the new facility was chosen for its visibility and easy accessibility, which the former location at 1100 Pike St., Marietta, could not boast after construction and changes to the street in that area made the business difficult to reach.
The previous store was broken into two buildings on two floors and this new facility has an open floor plan with everything under one roof.
"We worked on this move for several years and a complex on the interstate was our goal," Hardy said. "This has exceeded our expectations."
While the store opened in time for holiday shopping, the Hardys said they were surprised everything came together so quickly.
"We hadn't planned on the new store being finished in the spring, so this is a very good surprise," she said.
The new facility was built on a 20-acre lot. Space is available for a restaurant, hotel and gasoline station.
"We want to make this a one-stop shop for people coming to the area and wanting to buy a Harley and accessories," Patsy said.
Hardy said the upgrade in facilities is not only more convenient for customers and workers, but also necessary to the businesses because of the increase in sales in the past two years.
"From January 2008 to January 2009, our motorcycle sales have nearly quadrupled," she said. "To be able to support the current growth and be prepared for future growth, we needed this building."
Customer and Harley-Davidson motorcycle owner Derek Marks of Parkersburg said he attended the store's first day open to see what it looked like and the merchandise, which ranges from leather jackets for riding and new motorcycles to helmets and drinking glasses.
"This (store) is unreal," Marks said. "There is so much room and so much to buy on display; it's really wonderful."
Hardy said that while the store is receiving positive feedback from the public and selling items, the contribution to the community is important.
"The building and land cost $5 million total, which is $5 million invested in the Williamstown area and community and we can't wait to see business and the area grow around us."
S&P Harley-Davidson will hold a three-day "super grand opening" during the first weekend in June.