• STURGIS (7.15.2015)  Sturgis is abuzz with new business.

    From the new Scott Peterson Motors Sturgis Ford dealership on the southwest to the Indian Motorcycle Sturgis grand building on the north, the once stagnant business environment in Sturgis is showing signs of renewal. 

    Brad “Murdoc” Jurgensen, a spokesman for Scott Peterson Motors, believes their new store, along with all the other businesses that are opening in the community, will dramatically change the business landscape in Sturgis.

    “It’s been a long time coming, but this is a game changer,” he said.

    He attributes the success to the current strong group of economic development supporters in Sturgis.

    “They make it really easy for businesses to do things like this,” he said.

    Jurgensen also points to the vision of Scott and Susan Peterson for opening the new dealership. Winter storm Atlas, which happened in October of 2013, heavily damaged the former Jacobsen Ford dealership building which the Petersons purchased on Junction Ave. in Sturgis. At that point, the Petersons had to determine how they would move forward in Sturgis.

    “Scott Peterson, after being here only three months, could have just as easily decided just to go back to Belle Fourche, but instead he spent months trying to site the perfect location for a new dealership,” Pat Kurtenbach, president of Sturgis Economic Development Corp., said.

    Jurgensen said it’s been a difficult last year and a half because they have been spread out in three different locations in Sturgis.

    Scott Peterson Motors Sturgis had inventory on Lazelle Street, at their old location on Junction and moved the service shop to a location south of the Interstate 90 Exit 32.

    “They really haven’t had a chance to show this community what they can do,” Jurgensen said. “When the store opens it is bringing everything together under one roof. It’s going to be great.”

    Features of the new building on Junction Avenue west (which turns to Vanocker Canyon Road at Pineview Drive) include lots of expansive glass to show views of the Black Hills, a state-of-the-art service shop and a large parking lot with room to showcase many vehicles.

    When Scott Peterson Motors purchased the land on which the new dealership sits, they also purchased surrounding land which will be sold off as retail-ready pad sites for other development along Junction Ave.

    “Obviously the goal is to fill up all of that land with as much development as possible,” Jones said.

    Kurtenbach says Scott Peterson and Belle Joli winery are to be applauded for taking the leap to go west of Interstate 90 with retail development.

    “It just takes few people to put their toe in the water for others to follow suit,” she said.

    One of those following was Big D which plans to open its new convenience store along Junction Ave. west of Interstate 90 Exit 32 prior to the rally.

    The site will also be home to Papa John’s Pizza and an Arby’s.

    Kurtenbach said Peterson is being selective about who he sells the lots to which are adjacent Junction Ave. west.

    “He wants businesses that drive traffic to that area,” she said. “And we want, as he does, the retail and the sales tax generators.”


    Melissa Stetser, public relations and event coordinator for Indian Motorcycle Sturgis says that when the dealership opened they expected big things, but admit they didn’t expect it to get as big as it has so fast.

    “It’s hardly been a year now and we’re already moving to a new building having outgrown the place we started in,” she said.

    Heath Rodney, managing partner of Indian Motorcycle Sturgis, said the growth of the Sturgis dealership surprised all involved.

    “We were hoping for the best. The public has been really receptive to the new product. It really seems to fit the true motorcycle enthusiast,” he said.

    The legacy of Indian motorcycles in Sturgis dates back to Pappy Hoel, who with a handful of other motorcycle enthusiasts launched the annual motorcycle rally.

    The rally continues to grow by leaps and bounds and Indian believes that will only help to sustain their dealership.

    “We’ve seen consistent growth over the decades,” he said.

    The owners of Indian Motorcycle Sturgis admit that Polaris, the corporation that owns the Indian brand gave them the option of being in Sturgis or Rapid City.

    “We felt that it had to be in Sturgis because of the heritage here,” Rodney said. “We have found that if you have the right product in the right destination, people will come see you.”

    Throughout the first year in business, Indian Motorcycle Sturgis battled with Daytona, Fla., for being No. 1 or No. 2 dealership in the nation for sales.

    “I’m sure once we get through the summer, we will be in the No. 1 spot again,” Rodney said.

    Besides the overwhelming reception by people in the Black Hills region to Indian Motorcycle Sturgis, a growing number of customers come from all over the United States, Rodney said.

    “This is a destination. People like taking home a piece of the history when they buy a bike in Sturgis. We have people weekly who fly in to pick up their new motorcycle,” he said.

    But was it a slap in the face to Indian for Harley-Davidson to be named the official motorcycle of the Sturgis motorcycle rally.

    “They’re the big boys on the block. They’ve got the money to do that,” he said. “We’re fledgelings in this business. But, there’s something to be said about being the underdog.”

    Rodney lauded the efforts of the city of Sturgis and the Sturgis Area Economic Development Corp. for opening the door for them to come to Sturgis.

    “It was not the manufacturer’s first choice because they are always going to go toward population which would be Rapid City,” he said. “The city made it pretty hard for us to say, ‘no.'”

    Having more motorcycle-oriented businesses within Sturgis will contribute to the success of all, Rodney said.

    But how can motorcycle-oriented businesses sell when there is a foot of snow on the ground during the winter months?

    “We were prepared for that,” he said. “With some changes, a strong internet presence, a strong devotion to Sturgis and changes to the Indian brand, we have managed to sell motorcycles year round.”

    One of the selling points is that each new bike bought from Indian Motorcycle Sturgis has a name badge that says “Sturgis” on it. And this year being the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis motorcycle rally, the name badges say “Sturgis 75th.”

    Even though there has been a surge in sales surrounding the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis rally, Indian staff believe that business will continue to grow.

    “It doesn’t hurt that this year is the 75th, but the longterm outlook is just as bright as it is this year,” Stetser said. “Indian has a staying power and being in the motorcycle mecca of Sturgis, we believe we are in the right place for this kind of business.”


    Zach Parham, vice president of J & P Cycles which opened a new year-round retail store on Lazelle Street in Sturgis, says their company has no worries about serving customers throughout the year.

    “We have been thinking about it for a long time and we finally got a good retail manager in Tara Blanchard who we thought could get us out here and keep it going year around and make it work,” Parham said.

    Factoring into J&P’s decision was that they could see Sturgis had a new vibrancy.

    “There is a lot going on in the city of Sturgis to draw people year round here that maybe wasn’t here five or 10 years ago,” he said.

    Parham predicts good things for J&P cycles in Sturgis.

    “We probably should have done it five years ago, but we’re here now,” he said.

    Officials with J&P say they expect to have some slow months.

    “We know November through January will be much like some of our other stores. We may venture into other stuff. As a company we do sell parts for snowmobiles and may look at that. But for now, we are going to stick to the Harley stuff,” he said.

    Parham said having the new Indian dealership in Sturgis weighed on their decision to open a full-time retail outlet in Sturgis.

    “We talked to them quite a bit and heard how great they were doing. They were very instrumental in us coming here,” he said. “Showing that they could make it helped us to say, ‘well we can do this then too.'”

    J&P officials see Sturgis as a motorcycle market.

    “We believe there is enough busines here besides the rally,” Parham said.

    Because this is the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis motorcycle rally, Parham believes J&P will have a very good first year in Sturgis, but the move to full-time retail was not done for the 75th.

    “We pushed to be open by June 1 because we felt there was going to be so many people coming in to town. And, if they experience us now, they will come back in the future.”


    Just last week, Domino’s opened its new store on Main Street in Sturgis.

    And Black Hills Laundry and Dry Cleaning has opened at its new location at 2014 Main Street just south of the Cenex station on west Main Street.

    The new facility will have about 2,400 square feet of space with 1,900 of the space dedicated for the Laundromat and 500 for a rental space.

    Old equipment was moved from the existing Laundromat, but new equipment also was added, said owner Clark Sowers.

    Additionally, Grocery Mart has made significant improvements to their location on Junction Ave. They plan a open house and mixer Wednesday from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

    “It’s amazing to see our economy overall firing on all cylinders,” said Sturgis City Manager Daniel Ainslie. “”Usually in communities, you see one side of your economy growing or another, but here, it is residential, commercial and industrial. Everywhere you look around town, we’re growing.”

    Reprinted courtesy of Deb Holland, Meade County Times Tribune