Tough economy impacts motorcycle dealership

October 14, 2009 (CHICAGO) Champion Cycle Center has been in business on Western Avenue for more than forty years.

The owner of the dealership says business is bad. Consumers are not buying luxury items such as motorcycles and ATVs.

Champion Cycle has been struggling to pay one of its creditors the past few months and owes the company $190,000.

It's a tough break for the family that's owned the business since the late 1960s and has been known to occasionally give their own customers a break.

"This has been our livelihood. This has been our life," said owner Michael Wolfe.

On Wednesday, Wolfe watched as part of his livelihood was loaded on to a truck and hauled away.

Sheriff's deputies were on hand to oversee the repossession of nearly 200 motorcycles, ATVs and wave runners, luxury items that used to be big business for Champion Cycle. But now, Champion owes its creditor $190,000, a debt, the owners say, is not negotiable.

"We've offered several different kind of payment plans we could live with covering a month. We made one payment so far. But they don't want to bend," said Wolfe.

Champion was one of the original Yamaha dealerships in the city. Now, all of the store's Yamaha and Suzuki merchandise was taken away.

The owners say they've faced tough times in the past but nothing like this where they were hit hard by both the recession and bad weather.

"Then you take into consideration the lack of summer we've had this year and that's pretty much the nail in the coffin," said Wolfe.

Champion has been around for 43 years at Western and Addison.

Jojo Vallejo has worked there for nearly 25 years and says the owners are good people who do business in a fair and old school way, at times, cutting their customers some slack.

"Say it's a college kid struggling or something. These people, they got a heart. It costs this much. Oh, I got tuition, I'm studying to be a doctor. The world needs doctors. Come on in, I'll fix your brakes, don't worry about it," said Vallejo.

Champion is not out of business. They still sell Kawasaki merchandise and other parts and their service department is also open. But the owner admits business does not look good. They're just trying to make ends meet.

Copyright © 2024 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.