Friday, January 27, 2012

#87 Things are tough all over (April 2009)

You can’t turn on the TV, computer or pick up a newspaper (how quaint) without seeing to stories of gloom and doom. Government bailouts to companies that made bad decisions, US Automakers losing money faster than George The Painter in a whorehouse. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also impacting our own industry and subculture. The industry side is really being hit. Back in the Good Old Days… that was a couple of years ago… chopper shops were popping up on every street corner, probably outpacing the Starbucks growth of the same period. Every time you looked around, Stoner A and Hack Welder B were finding all kinds of money for lavish shops, big advertising budgets and godawful assembled-from-catalog “choppers” with Technicolor yawn paintjobs.
Now, just like Starbucks, they are closing up and disappearing off the face of the earth as if they never were there in the first place. I don’t have numbers to prove it, but the once staggering popularity of OCC seems to be plummeting like a stockbroker leaping out his office window in his Wall St high-rise.
So there is a good side to all this, the incredible proliferation of unbelievably garish bad-taste theme “choppers” has hit the wall. Ebay and Craigslist seem to be abounding with unridable swoopy “show-winning” abortions as their owners start becoming desperate for cash. Is this then, the Armageddon predicted in our subculture since the mid 80’s when the Evo landed on the scene? The attendance figures last year at Bike Week, Sturgis and Biketoberfest were noticeably down. The Harley® dealerships seem to be full of bikes. Discovery channel doesn’t seem to be at all interested in choppers any more and Hugh King is nowhere to be seen. Is it over?
Well, it might be… but not for us.
Whilst the numbers at Biketoberfest were sparse compared to previous years, the bikes at Willies Tropical Tattoo show were as strong as ever. Simply the best selection of hardcore home and pro built choppers in Daytona... ever! How can this be? Simple, the people who are really into the subculture will always be there. The people with real passion don’t care about what’s happening on TV or Wall St and will always be slaving away in their frozen (or temperate, depending on where they live) garages trying to create their vision.
The bad part about it all is the fact that many of the faithful are impacted with tough economic times also. The guy that was planning on finally building his dream chop this year… but happens to work down the road (from here) at Chrysler Corporation on the line, is gonna have to try and hold on for a while. The good custom parts shops, like Fab Kevin, Crime Scene and others, will be facing a scary time ahead as the customer base faces wallet-shrinkage. Major parts companies, such as S&S are definitely feeling the brunt of the sudden clamming up of the collective wallets.
Here at The Horse BC, our sales are holding steady in an industry that is experiencing quite a downturn. This means, of course, that our readers never were the ‘bandwagon’ types. We know you appreciate our efforts to find the best of home built and cool chops for our pages. We are not immune to economic pressures however, our advertisers are all feeling the pinch and we are hoping you, the readers, will step up and continue to patronize the good people that advertise in The Horse. I wrote an editorial a few months back about the necessity of this and now it’s REALLY important.
This will all eventually shake out. The get-rich-quick “chopper” shops will be gone and we hope all the good guys will still be around… that much is up to you guys. The economy will recover and that will probably lead to the numbers at the major events coming back up as the bagger crowd feel they can afford a tank of gas and some new neon lights. Most importantly, the real home chopper builders will still be here, there will always be new ideas and cool takes on old ones and we will always be here to bring them to you. Chop on!

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