Harley Shop Prepares For Annual Blowout Weekend - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

05/22/03

Harley Shop Prepares For Annual Blowout Weekend

More than twenty thousand motorcycle riders are expected for this year's Memorial Day weekend Harley Blowout.

The annual event at the Gulfport Dragway attracts a curious crowd of motorcycle owners and those who wish they were. They're united by the Harley-Davidson mystique.

Harley means more than motorcycles these days.

"If you want, I can get you a Harley-Davidson pool table. I can get you a Harley-Davidson bar. Barbecue grill. Everything," said Kim Long, as he offered a glimpse of the merchandise at Mississippi Coast Harley-Davidson.

Harley is mass marketing success. Customers now shop from a growing selection of clothing and other accessories. But bikes remain the business backbone.

"Screaming Eagle Road King. All the chrome has been braided. Again, the lettering up there is 23 carat gold leaf," said Long, as he proudly pointed to a custom gold plated bike.

It retails for around forty thousand.

The more conservative rider may prefer a different king of the road. There's a larger model that's aimed at the Gold Wing crowd.,

"You can put a 12 disc CD changer in the back. It has cruise control. It's fuel injected. There's not much that's missing on this," said Long.

"It's all in the style nowadays and stuff," said Ray Craven, as he sat on his '98 Dynawide Glide.

There's just something about a Harley.

"Everybody's in love with them. The sound. I mean, it's the only way to ride," said Craven, who admitted he's shopping for a new bike.

Mississippi Coast Harley began boosting its store stock several months ago. Kim Long says blowout weekend is like the day after Thanksgiving for other retailers.

"We're finding a little bit of everything. All walks of life showing up to look at the bikes. Get on the bikes. And go ride," he said.

A bright red beauty on the show room floor attracts attention. It's the firefighter special and was created in the wake of September 11th.

"The only way to buy it is to have a firefighter's badge," Long said.

It's all part of the Harley-Davidson mystique:   A beautiful bike and that unmistakable sound.

Harley-Davidson celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. The motorcycle maker is hosting a big party August 31st at Harley-Davidson headquarters in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

By Steve Phillips

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