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Mitchell motorcycle businesses see local boost during rally

Blake Sabers works on a motorcycle in the Sabers V-Twin service shop on Tuesday afternoon in Mitchell. (Abbie Lambert / Republic)

When August rolls around, so does the rumble of motorcycles in South Dakota.

And while people make their way to Sturgis from far and wide to attend the most famous motorcycle rally in the world, they also find their way to Mitchell.

The 78th annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally is now in full force in Sturgis with entertainment, food, vendors and, of course, motorcycles. Like many motorcycle shops across the state, Sabers V-Twin and Klock Werks in Mitchell are busy catering to the needs of motorcyclists from all across the world.

Blake Sabers, who owns Sabers V-Twin, always avoids scheduling many clients during the weeks before Sturgis because he knows from experience that walk-ins happen frequently this time of year.

"I pretty much plan for two weeks not scheduling much because we don't know what we're going to get, but we know everyday something is going to show up," Sabers said.

Sabers V-Twin hasn't had a booth at the Sturgis rally for about 10 years. The custom and service motorcycle shop made trips to Sturgis for four years before deciding to stay local in Mitchell during the rally.

"I would rather make money staying home than spend money going out to the rally. Every year, it was getting more and more expensive for us to have a booth out there," Sabers said. "The return on the investment wasn't really what we were getting."

As one of the only V-Twin — short for a two-cylinder engine shaped like a "V"— shops on the way to Sturgis, Sabers said they still see a lot of business during the rally. This past winter, the company decided to focus specifically on service work, and with the change came an increase in profits from both local and national customers, especially around the rally time.

"Mitchell is a good stopping point for people to spend the night. (Monday) morning, I pretty much had people waiting when I got to work," Sabers said.

He is happy to see people stop in Mitchell and appreciates all the support the community gives to motorcycle riders.

Like Sabers, Klock Werks' Brian Klock couldn't think of a better town in which to have a motorcycle business. That was evident during the large turnout at the Palace City Pre-Sturgis Party on Aug. 1.

He says the city made a huge impression on those from out of town who attended the large event and Klock was really excited to see members of the community, who weren't motorcyclists, at the celebration.

"There is a sense of community that is growing and continues to foster around the Corn Palace," Klock said. "The Corn Palace is the hub of the wheel that is Mitchell, South Dakota, and we're starting to use the property that the city has acquired and it's really fantastic."

Now in Sturgis, Klock says people are still talking about the party and how great not only the event was, but also the people.

"I've had people who came to me and said, 'I missed the event, and I'm so bummed out.' That's all everybody is talking about out here," Klock said.

Klock has attended the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally for 43 years and has countless stories of interactions and friendships he has formed with motorcycle enthusiasts from all across the world.

He also credits the event for making it easier for Klock Werks to share its brand and for bringing people right to its front door. Many people stop at their shop in Mitchell on their way to and from the rally, not only because of the popularity of the company but also because of the central location of the city.

"Everyone knows that Sturgis is the absolutely best rally. It's where everybody comes because the riding is so stunning, the people are so nice and it's like a family reunion," Klock said. "I really feel Mitchell has the opportunity to become a gateway to Sturgis, where people want to meet even if it's not for the party or the event."

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