Pandora's European Motorsports, revved up by several record sales months amid the coronavirus pandemic, is planning a shift from Chattanooga to East Ridge with the help of a tax break.
Pandora's, which sells motorcycles from brands such as BMW, Ducati, and Triumph, currently is located on Highway 58 near Highway 153 and is preparing to move into larger space at 5337 Ringgold Road.
Stephen Larson, the motorcycle dealership's sales manager, said plans call to be into the new facility by June.
"We've got to do the whole build-out," he said. "We've got plans drawn up."
Larson said the new location will be 7,000 square feet larger than the existing facility where it has operated since about 2014.
The dealership, acquired a few years ago by Mountain View Auto Group in Chattanooga, is taking advantage of the Border Region Retail Development District, a state sales tax incentive that has helped East Ridge grow over the past several years.
The incentive allows the city to recapture the growth in sales tax collections within the zone and then plow those funds back into repaying investments in the area.
Pandora's European Motorsports opened in 2009 in Chattanooga as a dealer for Ducati exclusively. Later, BMW was added and Triumph motorcycles came aboard in 2012. In 2017, Pandora’s partnered with Husqvarna Motorcycles, a Swedish brand known for a diverse range of motocross, enduro and supermoto bikes. In 2019, it picked up KTM and Beta Motorcycles.
East Ridge City Manager Chris Dorsey said that Pandora's is to spend about $3.4 million on the project. He said that of that figure, East Ridge officials think Pandora's will get 60% of that money back through 2042.
"It's been a big shot in the arm for East Ridge," he said about the Border Region District. "We hope to continue that trend, too."
Dorsey said the East Ridge City Council approved the Pandora's tax break this fall.
Pandora's is to relocate to a site across Ringgold Road from Southern Honda Powersports, which is building a $10 million facility and also moving from Chattanooga.
Larson said he didn't believe the aim was to move near Southern Honda Powersports.
"It worked out that way," he said.
East Ridge is trying to spur changes in the city and the Border Region District is helping do that, Larson said.
"It's becoming a desirable place to move," he said.
Larson said Pandora's has benefited from the so-called quarantine fatigue many people have experienced during the year due to the pandemic.
"Business has been amazing," he said. "We've set multiple record months. Not just sales but the whole dealership."
Larson said people have been at home "going crazy," but many decided to make purchases at Pandora's to "do something that makes me happy and is social distancing."
Even the 2020 presidential election didn't mess up the sales run, Larson said.
"Usually, an election screws things up," he said. "The election didn't mess it up this year."
Sales of Pandora's Ducati motorcycles so far in 2020 are the dealership's best ever, Larson said.
"It all did well for the most part," he said, even though there were shortages due to a manufacturing shut down earlier in the year because of the coronavirus.
The Motorcycle Industry Council reported last month that new-model sales increased for the third quarter. Year-to-date, sales of new motorcycles and scooters through September have grown 10.2% compared to the same period last year, the trade group reported.
Chattanooga businessman Tim Kelly, who owns Southern Honda Powersports, said in June that he was moving ahead with his project to house that dealership.
Kelly, also a Chattanooga mayoral candidate, said the new location on Ringgold Road not far from Interstate-75 will make it easier for customers than the current Workman Road site.
Kelly also cited the Border Region District incentive is a big reason he's building the new facility.
Contact Mike Pare at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @MikePareTFP.