After 96 years in business, Wilson’s Motorcycles, the second oldest motorcycle shop in the nation, has come to Clovis.
Since 1919, Wilson’s has served motorcycle riders in the Fresno area and up until nine years ago, actually operated out of it’s original brick and mortar shop downtown on Broadway. In 2006, the operation moved to a larger space on Foundry, off of Jensen and Highway 99.
Now, for the first time in its long and rich history, Wilson’s has expanded to have a second location along Shaw Avenue in Clovis.
The new store, which occupies the former Bally’s Gym and Celebration Church building at 284 W. Shaw, near Villa, opened in July but it’s official grand opening ceremony will be held on October 24.
Marketing Director Chris Williams said the move to Clovis has allowed Wilson’s to increase its inventory. While the Foundry location exclusively sells Yamaha and Kawasaki, the new Clovis store offers KTM, Moto Guzzi, Aprilia, Ducati and several other motorcycle brands. So far, Williams said business in Clovis has been steady, with KTMs being the bestsellers. The Central Valley as a whole, he said, has “always had a culture for motorcycles.”
“When you’re growing, there are always a lot of growing pains but business has been good,” Williams said. “I’ve lived in Clovis my entire life and so do many of the other people who work here so we love Clovis and are happy to have a spot over here and business is good, it’s getting better every week. We’ve obviously been around a long time so there are customers who are willing to come over here who have already been customers at our other store, but there are a lot of new faces, people who never even knew we were over there who live in Clovis.”
While motorcycles are obviously Wilson’s bread and butter, the Clovis store has also added some new merchandise, specifically a whole section of bicycles and a selection of scooters.
“There are a lot of bicycle riders around Clovis and that is why having bicycles is something exclusive we are doing for the Clovis store,” Williams said. “We already have a lot of customers here who come in for bicycles.”
Co-owner and vice president Gary Georges said the move to Clovis has been beneficial for Wilson’s and for its existing customers.
“We did this move to get more awareness in the town and be more front and center for the consumer which helps out our parts department and is much more convenient,” Georges said. “About 70 or 80 percent of my warranty registrations went from the other location to this one when we moved so a lot of our customers are already here and we moved to where it was more convenient for them. The bicycle industry as well was able to grow and it’s been a great addition. We also have a lot more merchandise, we have clothing and backpacks and we had a lot of back to school shoppers and we never had that before. People don’t drive all the way downtown for those things. Here it is a lot easier.”
With the new bicycle and merchandise offerings, Georges says he is looking forward to the upcoming holiday season.
“I’m really excited about the holidays,” Georges said. “We have a lot of small bikes and mini-bikes that sell well at Christmas time and we have stocking stuffers, we’re going to try and have Santa Claus come out here for a day and some other things during the holidays.”
Georges, a Clovis resident, has been with Wilson’s Motorcycles since 1990 and worked his way up from an extra hand in the parts department to a co-owner.
“When I started unit counts were low in the early 90s and all of a sudden the industry started growing rapidly, 30 or 40 percent gross until 2006 or so until the crash happened,” Georges said. “When the crash happened, we all hunkered down and rode the wave and now we’re starting to see some more consistency in the industry and we were able to make this move to a better location with lots of traffic… It’s an extremely fun industry but it’s had its ups and downs. Now it’s consistent and we’re happy to be in Clovis.”
Georges said he loves motorcycles and feels lucky to work in the industry.
“I grew up riding motorcycles and started rode racing in 1990 professionally until 2002,” Georges said. “I’m an off rode rider and now I just play around. My main thing was rode racing for a long time and I got out of it because of the crashes and broken bones and business gets in the way. I’ve been a part of the industry since I was born and I got lucky enough to turn it into a career. It’s been a hobby of mine forever and I’ve been able to make a living at it.”
Williams, Georges nephew, also grew up riding motorcycles like most of Wilson’s employees.
“For the first time in my entire life I do not have a motorcycle and it’s killing me,” Williams said. “I rode dirt bikes my entire life so I got into standard or naked bikes that are more upright and don’t have the fairing on the side. That is the riding that I like when I’m on the street.”
Wilson’s Motorcycles in Clovis will have its grand opening on Oct. 24. Georges said the event will be an all day affair and there will be food and riders demonstrating some of the motorcycles for entertainment. There will also be a bicycle raffled off.