You don't have to be American Express to appreciate the benefits of a good brand name and a loyal customer base. Just ask Billy Stevens, proprietor of the World Famous Iron Horse Saloon, in Ormond Beach, Fla. His customers are so loyal that they'll even buy the house brand of cologne -- and we're talking about your basic, hard-core bikers here.
For eleven and a half months of the year, the bar caters mostly to the local motorcycle crowd. But for nearly two weeks in March, it's besieged by thousands of bikers who come to town for the largest annual motorcycle gathering in the country. Recognizing a bonanza when he saw one, Stevens began slapping the Iron Horse name onto everything from hats to lace underwear to bandannas, not to mention can wraps and condoms.
And how did he happen to come up with the idea of selling cologne to bikers? "We were sitting around having a couple of beers and got silly talking about it," admits Stevens, a former district service manager for a Boston car dealership.
Silly or not, he moved 500 bottles of Harley Heaven, Motorcycle Musk, and In the Wind Cream during the most recent pilgrimage, clearing about $5 per bottle. (Meanwhile, he was selling 9,000 beers a day, and about 12,000 T-shirts.) Now, Stevens is planning to extend his line -- with roll-on deodorant.
-- Leslie Brokaw