Author Topic: Poor dealership selection  (Read 222 times)

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Offline Jeff McBrayer

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Poor dealership selection
« on: September 05, 2019, 08:33:15 AM »
Why did Bridgestone have such poor dealership selections?  Many in silly places like Locksmiths and Hardware stores?, seems poor to me.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2019, 08:34:57 AM by Jeff McBrayer »
Great BS site

Offline Old BS Guy

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Re: Poor dealership selection
« Reply #1 on: September 05, 2019, 12:25:51 PM »
As memory serves, from what I've read, Bridgestone put no real effort into either promoting or sustaining it's dealership network. Money from this leg of the business was funneled back to Bridgestone corporate, and there was no real effort in Co-op advertising, etc. on a regional basis. Perhaps Richard Clark or Mike Anderson could weigh in and answer more specifically, as they were more an integral part at the time. I recall here in the west that the dealerships were weak, and eventually merged with larger dealerships, or withered and died.
'65 BS Homer 50, '69 Mach II RS 200, '67 350 GTR,(2), '66 Sport 90 o.i., '65 90M Surf Rider, '68 100 Trail, '71 100 TMX ,'79 Honda CBX, '82 Yam 650 Turbo, '74 RD-350, '70 Triumph 500 Trophy, '65 Honda CL72 250 Scrambler, 67 Honda CL77 305 Scrambler.

Offline Richard Clark BS parts

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Re: Poor dealership selection
« Reply #2 on: September 05, 2019, 12:45:31 PM »
I have a sections on this site, concerning the BS hobby, Please review the FORUM sections for many good topics, including BS MARKETING, HISTORY, TIPS, HOW TO, GALLERIES and more..........
Here is link to the general forum section: https://bridgestonemotorcycleparts.com/index.php?action=forum

To answer your question about poor dealers, below is what I wrote some time back:   Others please post your opinions or answers!

Marketing of Bridgestones
by Richard Clark

This short story is  what I know of the marketing in the early days of Rockford Motors.  This information is to the
best of my memory from many years of dealing with Rockford Motors.  Knowing Mr Emery personally and by being
the last of the factory racers, in which is another story.

Mr Emery owned, operated and marketed Rockford Sewing Machine Co.  He took that small company into almost every
household in the USA, the sewing machines were sold under most all popular names, through mass merchants of the day.

The Rockford Sewing Machine Co saw the success of companies like  Cushman and Doddlebug selling scooters, both selling
directly and through mass merchants.  Doddlebug was sold through Western Auto Stores and Cushman through their regular dealer
network.  Mr Emery wanted a piece of this action, so the  Rockford scooter company was born by selling Silver Pigeons scooters that
were made in Japan.   Silver Pigeons were somewhat copies of Cushmans.  I would say he had limited success with these. 

Mr Emery saw the Japanese invasion of small proper motorcycles on the rise, so he made the deal for Bridgestone.
From his roots in merchandising, he took the road of using existing business to sell his new line of motorcycles.  From this
point on, they concentrated on small business, like Hardware, Bicycle, Lawnmower shops and even people in unrelated industries.
On the other side, Honda and others pushed for stand-a-lone motorcycle shops.  Today, 40 years later, we all know which
business model was better!

In the early days of Rockford Motors, they also attempted to market motorcycles through mass merchants.  In the 1960's there
were a few nationwide mass merchants, like Sears, Montgomery Ward, JC Penneys, ect .  There were also many smaller ones serving
regional areas.  Grants and Aldens in the midwest, Sun TV in Chicago, White in the eastern USA, and many more.  Mr Emery
made deals with many of these merchants.  Montgomery Ward sold a rebadged BS7, and to my knowledge,  this was the only nationwide
deal.  However, there were many of the smaller mass merchants who were to sell either rebadged or regular Bridgestones on a regional
area.  You could even order a Bridgestone 90 with S&H Green stamps.

This attempt at selling Bridgestones through mass merchants, angered most of the "regular" dealers selling  Bridgestones. I am sure
this really limited most from starting stand-alone motocycle shops - Why spend by money on  setting up a Bridgestone dealership, when
customers can just go to the "big" store and buy one?  Remember Honda was not doing this.

Mad Man Muntz  (yes of the 8 track player fame) did sell BS 90's for a while.  Aldens sold a relabeled BS7.
JC Penneys marketed a Bridgestone called Champion at a few locations, mostly in the midwest.  White Stores set up operations too. 
There were many more.  All attempts seemed to die the same way, none of these stores had any repair operations nor did they have sales
people who knew anything about selling motorcycles. They all soon decided to stop selling motorcycles.   I understand that there were a
few single stores, who on a one on one basis  continued to sell Bridgestones for a while.

Sears had the best luck selling motorcycles (not Bridgestones)  as they already had repair operations set up after selling lawn mowers
and appliances for many years.  It is a shame the Mr Emery had not been able to set up a deal with Sears, as perhaps operations
would have been much more successful as Sears was by far the largest chain of stores in those years.  What might have been?

By the time all this played out, Bridgestone in the USA was reduced to a small player, even with great hype from the press
about the outstanding 350GTR.   Rockford Motors were never able to recover. The "Big 4" motorcycle companies had already gotten
established. 

A good thing for BS owners did come out of Rockford Motor's marketing attempt!   In a rush to supply parts to these merchants,
Rockford Motors established 13 parts depots throughout the USA.  Rockford Motors supplied the 13 depots, and the depots supplied
some dealers.  This allowed parts to be available to most locations in the USA within a day.

All in all, it came to an end because of marketing that just did not work.

A sad tale to the best engineered Japanese motorcycles from the 1960's


Richard Clark

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« Last Edit: September 05, 2019, 12:56:41 PM by Richard Clark BS parts »
Richard  Clark, Owner and provider of this site
BRIDGESTONE MOTORCYCLE PARTS
New Albany IN

bsparts@aye.net

Offline OldSwartout

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Re: Poor dealership selection
« Reply #3 on: September 05, 2019, 09:54:46 PM »
and there was no real effort in Co-op advertising, etc. on a regional basis.   
 
 I recall here in the west that the dealerships were weak, and eventually merged with larger dealerships, or withered and died.

There was some effort at Co-op advertising.  Rockford provided us with ad copy plates (not sure of the terminology, but it was a formed paper relief with ad copy and pictures that the newspaper used somehow in preparation for the press operation). We could put our dealership info along with it. Rockford did reimburse us for some of the ad money we spent, I think maybe half.

We were a pretty weak dealership, but were a true standalone dealership in Indy, selling Bridgestones and Hodakas. We had day jobs and this was a secondary job and we had little money to work with.  We finally gave it up.
Karl Swartout
Mooresville, IN
BS175 Roadracer
BS350 GTR

Offline James14p

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Re: Poor dealership selection
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2019, 07:23:57 PM »
and there was no real effort in Co-op advertising, etc. on a regional basis.   
 
 I recall here in the west that the dealerships were weak, and eventually merged with larger dealerships, or withered and died.

There was some effort at Co-op advertising.  Rockford provided us with ad copy plates (not sure of the terminology, but it was a formed paper relief with ad copy and pictures that the newspaper used somehow in preparation for the press operation). We could put our dealership info along with it. Rockford did reimburse us for some of the ad money we spent, I think maybe half.

We were a pretty weak dealership, but were a true standalone dealership in Indy, selling Bridgestones and Hodakas. We had day jobs and this was a secondary job and we had little money to work with.  We finally gave it up.
   They dpay half. I still have a few plates from my parent's shop..................... someplace.

Online moonpup

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Re: Poor dealership selection
« Reply #5 on: September 08, 2019, 07:34:40 PM »
Some of the ad copy plates are pictured here in this old thread.....

https://bridgestonemotorcycleparts.com/index.php?topic=1179.msg4212#msg4212
Confucius say... "Better to have Bridgestone than Kidneystone"

Offline RayK

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Re: Poor dealership selection
« Reply #6 on: September 09, 2019, 01:27:46 PM »
I don't think this was the case in NSW Australia. In 1967 Bridgestone outsold Yamaha. RayK
BS 175DT, BS 50 Sport x 1, BS 90 Mountain x 3, BS 90 Deluxe, BS 90 Sport x1, BS 60 Sport, BS 90 Trail, BS100 Sport.

Offline nysz1b

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Re: Poor dealership selection
« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2019, 12:04:13 PM »
I remember a  BS dealer in Greenfield, Wisconsin (a suburb of Milwaukee).  They were known as "King Powersports", if memory serves. I'd go there to get parts for my '67 Sport 90, and drool over the GTR they had on the floor; they also carried the full line of BS bikes. A high school buddy of mine bought his 175 dual twin from them. It was constanly in the shop for over-rich running/plug fouling, and never did run right, which mightbe na  indictment of the "mechanics" who worked there?  it seems to me they also sold lawn mowers and other powertools. After Bridgestone folded, they became "King Honda"-cars, not motorcycles.

Offline srpackrat49

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Re: Poor dealership selection
« Reply #8 on: September 13, 2019, 02:40:10 PM »
In 1967 they had a program for highschool shop  classes... my teach went to the class with my motor from my 175.. when he was done they gave the school all sorts of suff that i put together 4 the shop class,,,, and they built my motor the class my teach took.... lets just say IT WAS NOT STOCK...... i now had at 18 a bike that would do the ton,,, and i got a speeding ticket for 65 over the limet.... that bike went awy when i went in to the Navy in 68.... some one got a fast bike?????

Offline rwgibbon

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Re: Poor dealership selection
« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2019, 09:39:34 AM »
In 1970 I worked for our local Bridgetone Dealer here in Norwich, NY. R.D. Smith and Sons, they were a farm equipment dealer. In a small room in their shop they had a few Bridgestones Motorcycles for sale. One of the owners Ralph Smith drove a 350 GTR with a windshield and hard saddle bags. I worked at the shop on rainy days and days I didn't have to work on my parent's dairy farm. I prepared new Bridgestone Motorcycles for sale and did oil changes and minor repair work.

I had a 350 GTR and it was the fastest motorcycle in the Norwich High School parking lot. A few of my friends at school had Bridgestone 175's and 200's a couple guys had Harley's a 350 Sprint and 125 Repido. 

In my area besides R. D. Smith's dealership, Horton's Hardware Store in Afton, NY (20 miles away from Norwich) also sold Bridgestone Motorcycles. Larry Young in the late 1960's was a Bridgestone Dealer in Cobleskill, NY. He primarily sold farm equipment such as bulk tanks and barn cleaners. This again was where Bridgestone Motorcycles were sold as a side line and not the major purpose or main income of the business. 

I wonder what Bridgestone Motorcycles would have done if they actually had full time Bridgestone dealers instead of businesses that sold Bridgestone as a sideline.


Offline paul

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Re: Poor dealership selection
« Reply #10 on: Today at 12:28:33 PM »
It seems that was Lou Emorys plan. I recall a travel trailer camper dealer that sold them. Track down Lou's son ,John, and ask him about Rockfords marketing plan.

 


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