- The Washington Times - Friday, November 2, 2001

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio Behind a barn and through the opening in a wooden fence, Joe Sharp looks across the field of his dreams. It carries the discards of others' weekends of fun of Saturdays on the open road, and the hopes of innumerable easy riders.

The carcasses of nearly 700 motorcycles, in perfectly neat rows aligned by maker and size, stand amid the dandelions and growing grasses.

Mr. Sharp is the proprietor of Sharp's Cycle Salvage in Chillicothe.

Need a dual horn assembly for a Kawasaki LTD 1000? Try Aisle 3, about halfway down. A gas tank for a 1981 Suzuki? Aisle 4, at the end.

"If he ain't got it, he can find it," says customer Michael Stanley as he wrestles a turn signal off a 1978 Honda. "I wouldn't buy my parts anywhere else."

For the 40-year-old Sharp, it all started with a banged-up 1971 Bridgestone 175.

He was working in a molded-plastics company, sweating his days away with his buddies, when he realized that this was not the life for him.

He decided that he would put an ad in the local paper offering to buy old motorcycles. Mr. Sharp hoped that over the course of a year or two, he might be able to buy up to 100 old motorcycles, put them in a field, and begin a small parts business.

But the minute the ad ran, the phone started ringing. The first guy to show up had the Bridgestone.

"It was too fast, and I was nervous and I didn't know anything about business," explains Sharp.

He bought the bike for $75, hoping to sell it for $100. He ended up lucky to sell it for $50.

"I took about four or five of those, and then I learned," he continues with a laugh.

But the last laugh would be Mr. Sharp's.

Within a few months, the yard of the duplex he shared with his mother was covered with motorcycles. And the calls for parts, a business he had yet to advertise, began to come in by the dozens.

"Within three months it was a business," Mr. Sharp says, still seemingly in wonder.

That was 16 years ago. Mr. Sharp now owns a five-acre spread, neatly traversed by rows and rows and rows of motorcycles.

He carries primarily Japanese-made motorcycles, no Harley Davidsons or BMWs or Ducatis. Harleys are expensive and so popular, that even their parts are highly coveted.

"This is what people are junkin'," he explains. "You won't find diamonds in a gravel pit."

But one man's gravel pit is another man's treasure trove.

Sherman Caldwell had seen the field of bikes off Route 23 for 15 years, and finally decided to stop in. His search for a set of forks for his Kawasaki 750 twin took only a few minutes.

Much of Mr. Sharp's business drops in just like that, drawn by word of mouth or the sight of all those motorcycles off the interstate. Customers have been so plentiful, he has not advertised in years.

"Ya know, I didn't think, 'Hey, someday I'm gonna sell junk motorcycles when I grow up," Mr. Sharp says with a smile. "I'm not a college dude who was looking for a good marketing plan. It was just a lucky thing to get into."


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