Tim Ryan may be getting ready to call it a career, but he’s determined that Harleys survive.
The owner of the respected Shorewood, Wisc., men’s specialty store on Wednesday kicked off a retirement sale as he seeks a new owner for the business.
“Two and a half years ago, I was diagnosed with alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, a rare protein deficiency disease that affects my lungs,” he said. “It’s like COPD, but it’s genetic. So it’s thanks to my parents, not my lifestyle. I can still run and cycle, but I can no longer do marathons or century bike rides. It’s treatable, but it’s a distraction and it alters my lifestyle.”
So Ryan, who will turn 69 in June, said he decided to fast-track his plan to retire at 70 and “accelerate the process.”
“I decided with the first quarter always being the worst quarter, I’d announce the retirement and bolster the business,” he said. “And it’ll help me pay some bills.”
Ryan said he is in serious discussions with a couple of potential purchasers but doesn’t have a timetable on when a sale might happen. “Once it’s a done deal, I’ll make it public,” he said. “Right now, I’m bound by non-disclosure agreements.”
But one thing’s for certain, he stressed. “I don’t intend the close the business — I’m adamant about that. It’s my intention to transition it to new ownership.”
Although he has a daughter, she is not involved in the business and has “chosen another career path,” he said.
Ryan has been the sole owner of Harleys since 2000 when he bought out of his former partner, Thomas Brill. The store was founded in 1948 by brothers Harold and Stanley Dubman who combined their names to come up with Harley’s. The apostrophe was eventually eliminated.
Ryan started working at the store in 1969 while he was in college.
“I look at the founders as the first generation, my partner and me as the second generation, me alone as the third generation and now it will transition to a fourth generation,” he said.