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Wednesday, December 19 , 2018, 2:41 am | Fair 45º


Santa Barbara’s Moto Loco Shows No Signs of Slowing

The motorcycle shop's owners say they're ready to rev up business by picking up where Santa Barbara Harley-Davidson leaves off

With next month’s planned closure of Santa Barbara Harley-Davidson after eight years in operation, another motorcycle shop is stepping up to fill the void for service.

Moto Loco is a family owned and operated motorcycle shop at 736 Carpinteria St. in Santa Barbara.

“Moto Loco is a true mom-and-pop shop,” said Heather Gatz, 40, who has a 22-year-old daughter with her husband, Gene. “Gene and I met in elementary school and have been together for 21 years.”

She said they work together every day and have supported each other through the difficulties of running a small business on the South Coast.

After being involved in a variety of their own businesses since they were 18, the Gatzes decided in August 2002 to open their shop. At that time, two shops recently had closed, which left an opportunity for the Gatzes to step in.

Earlier this week, Santa Barbara Harley-Davidson owner Jedediah Kenshaw sent a letter to his customers saying that with sales slumping since mid-2009, he would put all of his stock on sale Aug. 25 and close the shop at 3501 Via Real in Carpinteria by Sept. 30.

Heather Gatz said it’s sad to see the Harley shop go, but it will mean a boost in Moto Loco’s already booming business.

“We do motorcycle repair, retail sales and RV rentals,” but not sales, she said. “More than seven years ago, we saw a need for an independent motorcycle shop in Santa Barbara.”

The Gatzes’ business plan was to appeal to a variety of recreational types, ranging from street and dirt bikes to all-terrain vehicles, or ATVs. That plan has kept the recession from slowing down Moto Loco, Gatz said.

“We knew that we needed something to set us apart from the other repair shops, and so we decided to repair all makes and models of motorcycles,” she said. “This is pretty rare in the industry, and no one else in town offers this.”

People typically ride street bikes in the summer, and dirt bikes and ATVs in the winter, so this would keep Moto Loco busy year-round, she said.

“Our motto is: ‘Where the locals go,’” Gatz said. “We are very involved with local charities, and we run our shop with the community in mind.”

She said Moto Loco has run several “Ride the Ranch” events to benefit the Foodbank of Santa Barbara County. The Gatzes also are involved in the Unity Shoppe’s annual Toy Run.

On the third Thursday of each month, Moto Loco hosts a barbecue for its patrons, Gatz said.

Noozhawk business writer Ray Estrada can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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