That was the title to a business article authored by Dennis Pierce and appearing in an early 1968 edition of Motorcycle Dealer News. Some excerpts:
No matter where you are located, you have competition in the small-displacement field from an outfit called Sears, Roebuck & Co. A Sears motorcycle dealership is as close as the nearest postbox.
Sears is a force to be reckoned with. On the other hand, the typical Sears motorcycle customer isn't the type that regular dealers are used to selling to.
To give you an example of how easy it is to buy a Sears motorcycle, look at this: $299 cash price, payments for 18 months of $19.50 a month, or $351. This does not include freight if purchased through the catalog. If freight is included, add another $10 to $12 to the total price.
The customer must assemble the motorcycle when it has been ordered through the mail. Buyers purchasing the same model (a 60cc trail machine with three-speed transmission) at a Sears retail store will pay a little more, but they will get a motorcycle that is assembled and has been checked out before it is delivered.
We were told that all parts were available in 24 to 48 hours from a central warehouse. Some of the larger retail stores stock accessories and tires for Sears motorcycles and some other popular makes. The catalog lists batteries for 14 different makes. As far as we could tell, none of the retail stores actually did any work on motorcycles. Warranty work is jobbed out to repair shops.
Motorcycles are sold in the automotive department. The displays are very appealing and help sell the machines. One store we visited had close to 100 units during the Christmas season.
Sears also has a line of motorcycle accessories that are made by Buco. Items like helmets, racks, windshields, saddlebags and mirrors carry the Sears label.
Sears salespeople are experts at selling accessories to go along with a brand-new motorcycle. One of the reasons that these people sell so hard is the fact that they are working on a 6 percent sales commission. It's not hard to make $24 commission on a machine that sells for $329, a $40 helmet, some mirrors, a rack, a cover and possibly a windshield.
And the sale can go on from there! Remember Allstate Insurance? The buyer can walk a few yards and get complete coverage from a Sears insurance salesman.
Sears uses a lot of advertising to sell motorcycles. They push on motorcycles and accessories in August and September to get the back-to-school business, and once again in June for summer fun.
One of the big reasons Sears is so successful is the fact that it is Sears. It is the largest single seller of tires, laundry equipment, hammers, minks, garden tractors and bicycles. This last item could be a key to Sears' success in the motorcycle field. A lot of youngsters that have pedaled Allstate bikes could be possible customers for the motorized two-wheelers with the same label (Sears Allstate).
Regular dealers will never be able to sell a motorcycle to the guy that buys all of his clothing, shoes, furniture and even tobacco at Sears. Dealers can and will sell motorcycles to Sears customers on the basis of service after sales, parts in stock and just being knowledgeable and helpful.
To sum up, Sears will always be a force in the motorcycle field, but it is doubtful it will ever cut into the sales of a dealership that is well staffed with knowledgeable and friendly salesmen and equipped with a modern parts and service department.
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