St. John’s Newest Motorcycle Shop
Franklyn’s Finest Motorcycle Goods & Accessories has opened its doors for business at 576 Water Street West, right between Patrick and Alexander Streets. I had the opportunity to visit the shop this past Saturday and speak to the co-owners, Matt Dawe and Matt Pardy. These guys are not a couple of businessmen looking to capitalize on the explosion of motorcycle riders in the city, they’re two guys who love motorcycles and biker culture, and want to turn that passion into a business specializing in custom parts and apparel.
The shop’s facade is as unpretentious as it gets, the Franklyn’s Finest logo in the window backed by an old motorcycle (I’ll hazard a guess it’s a Triumph, but I’m not too sure). The small space inside houses clothing racks and shelves lined with t-shirts (including Lucky 13), helmets, boots and books, with much more merchandise to come. I managed to find a t-shirt that I just HAD to have, you probably will too. I hope the guys will eventually get some Franklyn’s Finest t-shirts made up with a distinctive St. John’s design to showcase the business. You can put me down for one of them right now.
Matt & Matt know that most riders want to “customize” their bikes, to make them their own. The guys are planning to sell custom parts and accessories, and already have several custom handlebars for sale. I managed to restrain myself from buying a set for my YZF only because it would mean replacing all cables as well!
What intrigued me the most about this venture is the fact that these guys want to establish a motorcycle community, a place where you can drop by, have a coffee (they sell coffee from Post Espresso Bar, looking forward to trying it as it was much too warm on Saturday to have a cup), talk bikes/mods/repairs, and then go off for a ride. They’re even planning “DIY” nights, where motorcycling newbies can learn how to do basic maintenance such as oil-changes, spark plug replacement, etc. This is a great idea, and a good way to meet other riders in the city.
One obstacle these guys will need to overcome is the “I can order it myself online for cheaper” attitude. Well, yes, maybe you can. But if we don’t support local businesses, eventually the only way we’ll be able to buy ANYTHING out of the ordinary is by ordering it online. Personally, I’d much rather pay a few extra bucks to buy something at Franklyn’s Finest than to order it online from Timbuktu. You get social interaction, you’re supporting the local economy, and you’re providing business to an establishment that truly appreciates it.
While no business can be everything to everyone, I think the key to the success of any motorcycle shop in this city is to be as inclusive as possible. I’d estimate that upwards of 70% of the motorcycles in this city would be classified as cruisers, but an independent bike shop needs to appeal to the sport sector as well. Besides, there’s more breeds of “custom bikes” than choppers and bobbers; I have a streetfighter that’s been a work-in-progress for the past three years. Which reminds me…I wonder if the guys can find me a set of red fork gators…
The next time you find yourself downtown, stop in to Franklyn’s Finest for a look and have a chat with the b’ys. SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL INDEPENDENT BIKE SHOP!
Updated Summer 2014: Unfortunately, Franklyn’s Finest is no longer in business.