Phoenix Motor Leathers opened its newest store in Avondale, making it the business’ third Arizona location.
On Sept. 30, the Phoenix Motor Leathers team hosted a virtual ribbon cutting with city officials. The third location makes Phoenix Motor Leathers the largest independent retailer for motorcycle apparel and accessories in the Southwest.
“This is one of my favorite parts of Avondale Council, is to welcome new businesses and celebrate them coming to our community,” Avondale Vice Mayor Veronica Malone said.
“The brand-new location, Phoenix Motor Leathers, is in our very own historic Avondale, so come on out. Avondale is filled with colorful culture and urban art and award-winning restaurants, originally started out as a stagecoach stop in the early days, and it’s fitting now to Avondale’s historic roots and is now home to the Phoenix Motor Leathers.”
Located in Avondale’s Old Town District at 707 E. Western Avenue, residents have access to motorcycle apparel and footwear, as well as headgear, luggage and bike accessories.
For owner Tina Whitely, Phoenix Motor Leathers became her new passion when she turned her love for riding into a career after retiring from her job as an engineer.
“It’s fantastic,” Whitely said. “I’ve been riding all my life since I was a teenager. I started off at 18 working for Yamaha in Santa Barbara and loved motorcycles and moved to Harleys in my 20s, and so I’ve been riding Harley’s for decades. I spent my whole life going to motorcycle rallies and bike nights and other motorcycle events, riding my Harley cross-country, and so this is really fun for me. I highly advise everybody to quit their corporate jobs and follow their passion and do what’s fun for them.”
While Whitely felt loads of excitement leading up to opening day, she admitted she didn’t expect the kind of immediate reaction and support from customers in the first weeks.
“I’m honestly just a little bit overwhelmed with the response from the west side motorcycle community,” she said. “It’s been fantastic. We opened our doors and have been busy ever since. So, it’s surprising and very gratifying to me to have that kind of response. Avondale was a perfect choice for our West Valley location.”
Whitely guarantees her business offers anything and everything a biker could possibly need.
“We sell all the motor letters, including boots, gloves, vests, jackets, chaps. We also sell helmets, we carry patches, and we do sewing here in the store. Patch sewing we make custom patches. We do leather alterations. We recover motorcycle seats and do custom leather work. People dream up all kinds of interesting things and we make them, we design them and we make them,” she said.
Whitely said she opened a third location in Avondale because the city allows for the perfect riding location. It also fills the gap in the motorcycle community.
“Avondale is just a perfect little spot. It’s a nice drive, it’s out of the way, it offers other restaurants and other compatible businesses that people can come visit,” Whitely said. “I love to find something off the beaten path, something in an old town, something where I can just park my bike on the main street and that’s where other stores are configured as well. It’s just really nice to have something on the west side.”
As the owner of all three Phoenix Motor Leathers, Whitely said she will for sure open more stores.
“I think every city that has a Harley dealership needs a Phoenix Motor Leathers,” she said. “My business plan is not necessarily to spread myself so thin that I have 88 stores or anything like that, but we just evaluate the opportunities as they present themselves. I’m just having a lot of fun.”
As business is already booming in Avondale, Whitely said she’s looking to add to her team. But she added that not just anyone can work in her store.
“I can teach everything but the love of the ride,” Whitely said.
“You have to be a biker and you must love to ride. Other than that, we can train you. No one’s going to get rich in retail, but you are going to have a nice rich life, because it’s enjoyable. It’s satisfying. It’s gratifying. It feels like every day is going and spending time with friends and hanging out. We just happen to be hanging out and showing people helmets and sewing on their patches and making custom patches. It’s just a good time.”
For Whitely, her business is all about creating an established camaraderie within the biker community and providing them a place to feel welcomed. She said when bikers walk into her store, they’re “kids in a candy store.”
“That’s one of the things that really sets us apart. We love to ride, so we get together and we ride. Everything centers around the love of the ride,” Whitely said.
Phoenix Motor Leatherst
Where:T707 E. Western Avenue, Avondale