Sunday, May 19, 2024

Her iconic KC business made her queen of the road; why Gail Worth is switching gears into retirement 

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Gail Worth is hitting the open road of retirement — putting 25 years at her premier motorcycle dealership in the rearview mirror.

And the Grandview business — Gail’s (formerly known as Gail’s Harley-Davidson) — that she made popular with her community drive and over-the-handlebars personality, is closing on Worth’s own terms, she said proudly.

“I’m closing my doors while we’re on top,” Worth said, noting she wants to be like a quarterback who retires after winning the Super Bowl. “I just didn’t want to just continue to push and push and push until I have to retire, until I have to shut it down.”

“Everybody in this entire team has worked so hard to create something beautiful, and we’ve got it. We’ve reached our success,” she continued. “We can walk away going, ‘OK, we succeeded.’ And that’s what I want.”

Gail’s (formerly known as Gail’s Harley-Davidson); photo by Nikki Overfelt Chifalu, Startland News

Gail’s — which she opened in 1999 — is set to close June 29 (or whenever Worth runs out of inventory, she said).

Before selling her Harley-Davidson franchise in 2020 and moving on to selling pre-owned vehicles (a change that necessitated a new name for the business), Worth was among only a handful of women-owned Harley-Davidson franchises and one of the top in the country.

“It’s been a dream come true,” she said. “This has been an emotional couple of weeks — like an emotional roller coaster. Every single day, I’m laughing on top of the world and I’m crying my eyeballs out.”

“It’s like the greatest thing on the planet,” Worth added, describing her pending retirement. “It’s just really, really hard. I’m moving on to my next chapter in life and closing this chapter is emotional.”

Worth — who loves when customers bring their daughters in to meet her — is proud of the legacy she leaves behind, she shared, making it 25 years in a male-dominated industry.

“This dealership has a heart and a soul and we built this,” she explained. “Not every company has a soul. A lot of them are just companies. You can buy a Harley anywhere, but there is only one Gail’s, which is one of the reasons I couldn’t sell. I’m closing it down because I couldn’t trust anybody to continue Gail’s with the heart and soul it’s got today.”

“There’s just something to it and I do think that me being a woman helped create that,” Worth continued.

She’s always focused on creating a family experience and a fun atmosphere, she noted, like having bouncy houses at her biker events.

“That’s the legacy that we leave behind,” Worth said. “Our doors are open to everybody with warmth.”

Kim Wilder and Gail Worth, Gail’s (formerly known as Gail’s Harley-Davidson); photo by Nikki Overfelt Chifalu, Startland News

“As an owner, she’s here every single day,” added Kim Wilder, a member of the Gail’s team, who Worth calls her right-hand woman. “There’s a comfort that she’s able to give — not just employees — but the customers that come in, as well. Men and women alike feel comfortable to be able to be themselves around her. You don’t get that everywhere else.”

The slogan for Gail’s — “Feel the Power” — isn’t just a nod to the power of a motorcycle, Worth noted; It’s about feeling the power inside of you and having an impact.

“We did make a difference,” she explained. “We made a big difference in this city. We made a difference in the riders and we made a difference in each other. And that’s what’s cool.”

Birds of a feather

After 25 years, the memories are too many to count, Worth said, but she’ll always remember the business’ 9/11 tribute rides — which brought together first responders and military personnel from all over and shut down traffic on U.S. 71 highway.

“It was the coolest thing on the planet,” she added. “I loved it.”

Worth will also carry with her the time she spent with the Heartland Riders, she noted, a local riding adventure club sponsored by Gail’s that has about 200 members.

“They’ve gotten me through a lot of hard times,” she explained. “We’ve had some good times and some bad times, and they were there for all of it. We made it because of them, so they’re pretty special to me.”

And, of course, her experience wouldn’t be the same without her team, Worth shared.

“The team here is just amazing,” she continued. “We are just one great big family and I’m so blessed to be surrounded by great people. It’s true when they say birds of a feather flock together.”

Gail Worth with customers at Gail’s (formerly known as Gail’s Harley-Davidson); photo by Nikki Overfelt Chifalu, Startland News

Through thick and thin

Worth isn’t through making memories with her Kansas City customers yet, she said.

Gail Worth, Gail’s (formerly known as Gail’s Harley-Davidson); photo by Nikki Overfelt Chifalu, Startland News

One last Gailapalooza — her annual free festival that features live music, food trucks, biker games, vendors, and a Harley-Davidson give away — is planned for June 7-8 at the dealership.

“It’s our big farewell retirement party,” she explained. “So people can come out and hang out with us and just have a good time.”

While her retirement plans include spending more time with her family and riding her motorcycle and horse, Worth still intends to invest in the Kansas City community, she noted.

Her Shawnee Cycle Plaza shop — run by her good friend — is expected to remain open and Worth plans to continue supporting local charities like SAFE (Surviving Spouse and Family Endowment Fund) and Wayside Waifs, which she has championed through the years.

“I’m here for Kansas City,” she added. “They have so backed me and been there for me through thick and thin for the last 25 years.”

With more time planned aboard her motorcycle, Worth said, she also plans to start a video series called “Gail’s Open Road,” where she will visit different dealerships across the country.

“I’ll be taking people on the road with me,” she noted.

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