New Sweet Home Choppers owners experience real rush as they re-open business

Sean C. Morgan

David and Kellie Kem are doing one of the things they love most: running a motorcycle shop after purchasing Sweet Home Choppers from the Victor family.

They re-opened the shop, which was founded in 2006 but had been closed most of this year, just in time for the Oregon Jamboree.

Trisha Van Eck is helping them get the business going this summer and sold their first motorcycle on the first day.

About two hours after the shop opened (Friday,) July 29, a man came into the store, Van Eck said. “He said, ‘I’m going to buy this bike.’ I said, ‘OK. You have $6,900?’ He said, ‘I’ll go get $7,000.’ He came back and bought it, and we delivered it the next day.”

David Kem, a lineman with Consumers Power, had to leave the Jamboree, where he was volunteering as an electrician, to deliver the bike.

“We had great feedback from the community,” Van Eck said. People were stopping in and buying shirts and stickers, excited to see the shop open again.

“I want to retire,” said David, 57, “I thought this would be something to do. We go to all the rallies anyway.”

“I think it’s great to retire and do what we love,” Kellie said. “We’re going to ease into retirement.”

Kellie, 54, had been running a business cutting and styling hair. Since buying Sweet Home Choppers, she has gone to work part-time at Salon W, located by the Jamboree office and owned by Sara Windom.

Van Eck said it was a natural fit for her to help out the Kems.

“I was born with bikes in the blood,” she said.

The same thing goes for the Kems.

“I’ve been riding since I was 14,” David said. “I raced Hondas and Yamahas when I was younger.”

Kellie said the Victors took a lot of care in selecting a buyer for the shop.

The Kems are committed to staying in Sweet Home and running the shop, Kellie said, and that’s what the Victors were looking for.

“The Victors have been very good to us,” she said.

The Kems’ goal is that the shop provide full service for local and visiting bikers.

“For us, this bike shop represents anybody that rides a motorcycle on the road,” David said.

He said they’ll do whatever it takes to keep anyone from being stranded. If a rider has a problem, the shop will make sure it gets fixed, either in-house or out.

Manny Victor Jr. is continuing to work on bikes in the garage, David said, to help transition the business as David picks up more of the work.

“It’s very overwhelming, ordering the parts,” David said. “It’s just been busy, busy, busy. Right out of the gate, it’s just been going good.”

The Kems missed the riding season going through the paperwork to buy the business, he said, but even during the winter, they’ll stay busy with bike maintenance. The shop also attracts a lot of tourists, people passing through and others who travel here just to visit the shop.

During the Oregon Jamboree, the shop had visitors from Idaho, Canada, Missouri and Switzerland, Van Eck said. A lot of customers came from the Mid-Willamette Valley as part of a lake tour that includes a stop at The Point Restaurant too.

Right now, Melissa Wise is designing destination shirts, with Weddle Bridge and the lakes, for the shop, Kellie said.

A grand opening is set for 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sept. 3 at the shop, 4639 Main St. The Kems are inviting everyone with hot rods and motorcycles to join a “cruise-in” and to enjoy hot dogs and music as part of the grand opening.