Kiss Cy­cles clos­ing af­ter 103 years

Kiss Cy­cles clos­ing af­ter 103 years; third-gen­er­a­tion busi­ness has been in the same lo­ca­tion since 1913

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Donna Rovins drovins@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­cBiz on Twit­ter

Pottstown will soon be say­ing good­bye to a down­town fix­ture: Kiss Cy­cles will be clos­ing its doors Dec. 23.

“I’m go­ing to be 64 and I want to ride a mo­tor­cy­cle, and I never get to do it. I push them around in here all the time, but never seem to have the time to get out there my­self.” – Randy Kiss, the third-gen­er­a­tion owner of Kiss Cy­cles

Pottstown will soon be say­ing good­bye to a down­town fix­ture: Kiss Cy­cles will be clos­ing its doors Dec. 23 af­ter 103 years in busi­ness.

Spe­cial­iz­ing in new and used mo­tor­cy­cles, mo­tor scoot­ers and ATVs — Kiss Cy­cles has op­er­ated out of the same lo­ca­tion at 18 E. High St. since its 1913 open­ing. The busi­ness has been an au­tho­rized Honda dealer for the last 54 years.

Randy Kiss, the third-gen­er­a­tion owner of the busi­ness, re­cently made the an­nounce­ment that he plans to re­tire and close the store. He cites busi­ness chal­lenges and a de­sire to have the op­por­tu­nity to ride his own mo­tor­cy­cle, as rea­sons for mak­ing the de­ci­sion.

“We don’t know how long God’s go­ing to give us,” Kiss said. “I’m go­ing to be 64 and I want to ride a mo­tor­cy­cle, and I never get to do it. I push them around in here all the time, but never seem to have the time to get out there my­self.”

Kiss said he and his com­pan­ion Paula Richard — who works with him in the shop — have be­gun to make some plans that in­clude the beach and fish­ing.

Kiss said the last 10 years or so have been a chal­lenge, but he wanted to keep the busi­ness go­ing.

“I had a per­sonal goal to make the 100-year mark for the fam­ily and I did that,” he said. “I saw the in­dus­try level out. I said ‘I don’t want to quit now, what if it gets better?’” He

added that the turn­around doesn’t seem to be hap­pen­ing.

Kiss has been hear­ing from a lot of peo­ple since mak­ing the an­nounce­ment and said he ap­pre­ci­ates all the kind words.

“I want to thank all the loyal cus­tomers for help­ing us re­main in busi­ness as long as we have. I want to thank the town for more than a cen­tury of busi­ness,” he said.

Frank Kiss Sr. started the busi­ness af­ter em­i­grat­ing from Hun­gary. Kiss said his grand­fa­ther was about 12 or 13 when he came to the U.S., trav­el­ing com­pletely alone. Frank Kiss Sr. trav­eled from Bu­dapest, to France, and then to the U.S. He found an un­cle in Ohio, be­fore mak­ing his way to Pottstown.

“He started his busi­ness with bi­cy­cles. Then it evolved into In­dian mo­tor­cy­cles,” Kiss said, adding that his grand­fa­ther even­tu­ally added Royal En­field and Tri­umph mo­tor­cy­cles.

Kiss said his grand­fa­ther met his wife Bertha — who was also from Hun­gary — in the U.S.

“My grand­mother ba­si­cally ran the busi­ness and my grand­fa­ther was the me­chanic,” he added.

Kiss said his fa­ther, Frank Kiss Jr., left school in the ninth grade to work full-time in the store. When Frank Sr. re­tired in the early 1960s, Frank Jr. con­tin­ued the fam­ily busi­ness; ex­pand­ing, mak­ing im­prove­ments to the build­ing and even­tu­ally adding rac­ing.

One of the rid­ers, ac­cord­ing to Kiss, was Johnny Platcheck, who with the help of Frank Jr., got to the Top 5 in the coun­try.

“But it got to be too much — be­ing in­volved in the busi­ness and run­ning around the coun­try rac­ing,” Kiss added.

When Randy Kiss was 12, his dad built him a race bike and the youngest Kiss be­gan to ride com­pet­i­tively, win­ning a num­ber of tro­phies in the light­weight and heavy­weight di­vi­sions.

“It got to a point where he came to me and said if I wanted to keep rac­ing, we wouldn’t be able to keep the busi­ness go­ing. I thought — no,” he said. “This was his dad’s busi­ness.”

When he was in 11th grade, Kiss left school to take his place in the fam­ily busi­ness, fo­cus­ing on man­ag­ing, rather than mo­tor build­ing.

Kiss said busi­ness was good through the 1960s and 1970s, with the shop some­times sell­ing as many as 500 units a year. Kiss took over in the 1980s, pulling the busi­ness through some re­ces­sions; and by the late 1990s, he said the busi­ness was again do­ing well.

In 2001 Kiss bought the build­ing ad­ja­cent to his — one of the for­mer lo­ca­tions of the KIWI Co. Kiss even­tu­ally was us­ing both floors of that build­ing — 22,000-square-feet — to dis­play as many as 170 units on the sec­ond floor and to house the ser­vice depart­ment.

Kiss said he started to see a change around 2006.

“I could see it hap­pen­ing — this in­dus­try started nose-div­ing and then around 2008 it was just ter­ri­ble,” he said. In 2009, Kiss said he went into “sur­vival mode,” shut­ting down the sec­ond floor and let­ting some of his 13 em­ploy­ees go.

Kiss said the seg­ment of the busi­ness he’s in — Power Sports — is a leisure prod­uct.

“I think we’re the first to go in a slow­down and the last to come back be­cause we’re toys — big boy and girl toys,” he added.

Kiss said that many of his cus­tomers are com­ing in now to have spring main­te­nance done be­fore stor­ing their bikes for the win­ter — main­te­nance they may have put off un­til spring.

Ma­jor dis­counts are be­ing of­fered on in-stock ap­parel and parts — as much as 35 per­cent at the end of last week. In stock mo­tor­cy­cles and scoot­ers are sell­ing at or be­low in­voice, ac­cord­ing to Kiss.

Once the doors close Dec. 23, the work is not fin­ished for Kiss. He needs to clean ev­ery­thing out, clean up and sell “lots” of old parts. But he said he’ll do it on his own sched­ule.

He then plans to sell two of the three build­ings he owns. Kiss plans to hold on to one of the parcels he owns, be­cause it has a big garage at­tached to it.

“I’ll need that to store the cy­cles I’m go­ing to keep for my­self and Paula — be­cause you can’t just have one mo­tor­cy­cle,” he said with a laugh.

Kiss said he thinks he’ll be keeping at least two bikes for each of them. Af­ter all, there are lots of things he wants to do and places he wants to go.

PHO­TOS BY DONNA ROVINS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Randy Kiss, owner of Kiss Cy­cles in Pottstown, is shown with some of the in­ven­tory in his shop. Kiss has an­nounced the store will close Dec. 23 af­ter 103 years.

Kiss Cy­cles of Pottstown will be clos­ing on Dec. 23. Shown here are some of the mo­tor­cy­cles for sale at the shop — marked down as part of the go­ing out of busi­ness sale.

Some of the ac­ces­sories for sale at Pottstown’s Kiss Cy­cles.

DONNA ROVINS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Randy Kiss, right, the third-gen­er­a­tion owner of Kiss Cy­cles in Pottstown, is shown here with his com­pan­ion Paula Richard, who also works with him in the shop. The pair is plan­ning to do some mo­tor­cy­cle rid­ing when the 103-year-old busi­ness closes Dec. 23.

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