Northwest Harley-Davidson: Breaking Down Stereotypes and Helping the Community


If you’re a Thurston County Harley-Davidson rider or fan, you already know and love Lacey’s Northwest Harley-Davidson shop. But even if you’ve never thrown your leg over a motorcycle, it’s well worth a visit.

Northwest Harley-Davidson general manager Julio Valdenegro and his staff work hard to make the store welcoming to all who enter the massive 32,000-square foot space, proving their motto as “The Friendliest Shop on the West Coast.”

“It’s our people that make us different,” he says. “I know it sounds corny, but it’s true.” Any tangible item in Northwest Harley-Davidson can be found in any other Harley shop, but the staff at Northwest Harley-Davidson is one-of-a-kind.

Valdenegro knows the shop inside and out. He came on board nine years ago having never ridden a motorcycle. His first post was in shipping and receiving, followed by stints in nearly every department. And yes, he’s now a Harley rider.

“Some Harley shops seem to think they don’t have to do customer service because it’s the bar and shield,” he says, referring to the familiar Harley-Davidson logo. “We’re definitely not that way. We greet you with a smile.”

Their superior customer service is proven in the number of patrons who go out of their way to frequent the Lacey dealership.

“We have people come in from Astoria, Oregon, Seattle, everywhere – just to get their service done,” says Valdenegro.

“And you can come in the store if you don’t even own a motorcycle,” Valdenegro continues. “There are a lot of cool clothes upstairs that you don’t have to be a motorcycle rider to have.”

The shop also offers an in-store deli complete with espresso stand. “They serve fantastic sandwiches,” says Valdenegro.

This eat-in option makes Northwest Harley-Davidson a perfect spot for people to pop in for lunch and just browse.

“There are some customers who I think come in every day,” Julio says with a laugh. “We get a lot of people who actually just come in for the heck of it.”

Northwest Harley-Davidson owner Steve Boone bought the dealership in 1994, just a couple years after riding his first Harley.

“I bought a bike from the man who owned the dealership,” Boone explains. He knew the business wasn’t doing well. “I casually asked him one day if he was going to sell the shop. He said yes, and I said: ‘Sell it to me.’”

The two men put a deal together and a year later, Boone owned the Harley-Davidson dealership.

“I love the lifestyle, the people, the ride,” says Boone. “It’s just a really unique experience. It’s fun to ride motorcycles and there’s always some new place to go.”

And although some people have the wrong ideas about the kind of person who rides a Harley, Boone and the entire staff at his shop work to dispel those misconceptions.

“They’ve just been watching a lot of movies,” Boone says with a laugh.

“Some people make it sound like a Harley customer is a specific person, that there’s just this one demographic – but it’s everybody,” he says. “I meet people in the shop from every walk of life.”

Boone’s passion for Harley-Davidsons is perhaps surpassed only by his commitment to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County, which he was instrumental in founding 10 years ago.

“When I was a kid in Los Angeles I attended a Boys Club and I thought it was great, lots of fun,” he explains.

When he moved to Olympia, Boone noted the absence of any area Boys and Girls Clubs. “So I got some people together and we founded the first one here. Now we have four locations.” Those clubs see 500 kids a day after school, Monday through Friday, from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

“Boys and Girls Clubs benefit the child, but also the parents and the family,” Boone says. “A parent can count on Boys and Girls Club after school to be with their child, mentor him or her, and help him or her become a better citizen and better student.”

A much higher percentage of kids in Boys and Girls Clubs finish high school and go on to higher education. “That’s the reason I got involved,” says Boone.

This enthusiasm for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County continues with Valdenegro and the rest of the shop.

Whenever Northwest Harley throws a big event – whether it be a free biscuits and gravy breakfast before the annual bike blessing at Saint Martin’s Abbey or summertime gatherings dubbed Thirsty Thursdays – donations are always welcome and all go straight to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Thurston County.

And there are plenty of fun events taking place at the store.

“A lot of Saturdays, we have live music and barbecue from Big Sexy’s BBQ,” says Valdenegro. “We also do the Big Bad Bike Show, where you can come and display your bike and win prizes.” In the past, the shop has had 11 different categories for winners, as well as performances by the Tenino Motorcycle Drill Team.

The shop also puts on a regular Garage Party, for women only. “It’s basically a fashion show, with beverages and some eats,” explains Valdenegro. The last party drew a crowd of 65, who learned how to lift a tipped-over motorcycle and other safety tips.

Valdenegro’s sister visited the shop and found it to be nothing like she expected. “She said, ‘I feel like I’m at Nordstrom or Banana Republic,’” Valdenegro says with a laugh.

It’s just more proof that Northwest Harley-Davidson is busting the old stereotypes, welcoming one and all, and doing it with a warm smile.

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