A longstanding dealer for the iconic Harley-Davidson motorcycles in Littleton closed Feb. 26 after 43 years in business.
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For store owner Kathy Yevoli, Rocky Mountain Harley-Davidson was more than just a dealership.
“We really did establish a way of life for our customers, and our staff and our community," Yevoli said. “It wasn’t about how many motorcycles we sold."
Now, Yevoli is reflecting on her time running the Littleton business, which closed its doors for good on Saturday, Feb. 26 after 43 years in business.
“It’s sad that we had to close the store, not of our choosing," Yevoli said.
The store, which was Colorado's longest family-run dealership for the iconic motorcycles, joins others like it across the country that have closed as a result of corporate consolidation by the Harley-Davidson company.
“The small, independent stores are being absorbed," Yevoli said, who broke the news in a Facebook post on Feb. 22 saying, "This isn’t what we envisioned for our staff, our family or the future of Rocky Mountain Harley-Davidson, but we will respectfully take a bow."
The post was met with an outpour of support and disappointment, with hundreds of comments from people who said they were "stunned" and "sad" at having to say goodbye to a "great crew."
"This is my home store, the only place I felt like I was a person and not a potential sale, where the staff was so friendly they answered every question I ever asked no matter how dumb it was," said commentor, Rick Archuleta, who called the store the best Harley-Davidson dealership in town.
Operating since 1979, the dealership, located at 2885 W County Line Rd in Littleton, left a mark on the community and beyond through its role with fundraisers and events.
It's original owner, Vincent Terranova, began the annual Children’s Hospital Toy Run 36 years ago, bringing thousands of motorcyclists together for the drive.
Yevoli, who was married to Terranova, joined him in running the store in the 1980s and took over as its main owner in 2015. The two have since divorced but Yevoli's daughter, Marina, has worked at the dealership since she was 13 and most recently served as its marketing manager.
Yevoli said the dealership has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the hospital, as well as more than $350,000 through an annual golf tournament, with money being donated to various Colorado-based charities.
For her, the support is a testament to the heart of the motorcycle community.
”They may look like big bad guys and girls … but they’re really one of the most generous groups that you’ll ever find," she said.
Marina, Yevoli's daughter, said the dealership has been like family.
"Most of my staff members and customers were at my wedding,” she said adding that working there has helped her forge connections and relationship to many in Littleton and the greater community.
The week the dealership announced it was closing was an intense and emotional one, Yevoli said, with customers "flooding the store" beginning the day after the online post.
When the store's last customers left around 3 p.m. that Saturday, Yevoli said it was the first time her roughly 20 employees were able to absorb what had happened.
“We wanted to gather as a group to spend a couple of hours talking about our own good times … it’s been a very emotional and exhausting time," she said.
One of the store's last customers that day, Pat Dunahay, said he bought the "last bike that company will ever sell."
A Harley lover since he was 19, Dunahay, who is co-president of the Littleton Business Chamber, supported Yevoli's store for decades and called her and Terranova "fabulous business people and extremely honest individuals."
"It's a terrible hit to the community, as far as I'm concerned," Dunahay said of the store's closing.
While Yevoli said she did not want to see the business come to a close, seeing messages of support and celebration for the store, some which came from across the country, reminded her of the legacy she can be proud of.
“It was overwhelming … it was one of those moments that validated our existence,” she said. “I will never be able to express how thankful we are and how full of gratitude we are for our customers and our community."
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