The History of Richards Honda-Yamaha

Chasing History

This is a story in motorcycle history. It spans some six decades and four generations. It's about "then and now". It started in Elvis Presley's hometown of Memphis Tennessee and journeyed down I-40 to its current home in Little Rock.

In the spring of 1930 a young and ambitious B.W. Barfield of Memphis, Tennessee decided to act on a passion. That passion was motorcycles. However, riding motorcycles was not enough. He had a love for the sport; an appreciation for the machines, a vision for the future. He wanted a motorcycle shop. So with the blessings of his family, B.W. opened his first motorcycle shop in 1931. The building wasn't much in fact, neither was his inventory. B.W. had one Harley-Davidson motorcycle on his show room for sell, but that's where it all began. It was only a matter of time before B.W. had three motorcycle franchises, including a dealership in Jackson, Mississippi, and a store in Little Rock, Arkansas. All three stores were Harley dealerships run by family. B.W.'s two daughters and B.W's two son in laws helped run the dealerships in Memphis and Mississippi. Despite the prospers years to follow, B.W. was forced to shut down both stores in Memphis and Mississippi in 1941 when World War II started. Almost all motorcycle production efforts seized. What few motorcycles that were being produced, were being used in the war efforts.

In early 1946, B.W.'s son-in-law, Dan Richards, Sr. reopened the store in Little Rock at 3925 Asher Avenue. This proved to be a wise decision. Little Rock was starving for a motorcycle store. Dan Richards, Sr. (D.W.) immediately began to make his presence known on and off motorcycles. He raced every chance he could get. Flat tracks, enduros, you name it, D.W. rode it. He even stood atop the amateur motorcycle world in 1955 by winning the Daytona 100 on the beach. In the years to come, the Richards name would continue to headline races-only now it was D.W.'s son Dan Richards, Jr. making waves. In 1955, D.W. added another franchise to his dealership. A little known Japanese company named Honda began selling in the United States. D.W. like the promise Honda showed. So did everybody else. Honda was an instant success-so was Richards Cycle Center. The store saw several face-lifts over the ensuing years. A branch store was set up at 19th and University for a short time. It was called University Honda Center.

In 1964, D.W. was forced to make a tough decision. He was given an ultimatum by Harley-Davidson to either drop Honda and keep Harley, or, drop Harley and keep Honda. D.W. chose to keep Honda. Again, this proved to be another great decision, as many Harley dealership were forced to shut down in the coming years.

In 1970, D.W. purchased land and began building a 30,000 square foot store at 6600 South University in Little Rock. He had outgrown his Asher location. D.W. showed no signs of slowing up. Neither did his son. This father son team built Richards Honda into one of the most respected dealerships in the country. They continually broke sales records.

By 1971 Richards Honda had entered the car market. They begin selling Honda cars next door to their motorcycle dealership on university. Both dealerships continued to be family owned and operated. Only now the family included three more grandchildren for D.W. After a great run with Honda automobiles, the Richards family sold the automobile franchise on November 12th, 1987. The Family's focus then shifted back to it's "first love", motorcycles.

In late 1978 D.W. decided to retire. The business would now be in the hands of Dan Jr., his oldest son. Dan didn't miss a beat. The family increased revenues with the addition of Yamaha motorcycles and ATV's in 1989, and they expanded their efforts to include selling Sea Doo watercraft.

Today Richards Honda-Yamaha continues to serve Arkansas riders. Only now, if you come in, Dan Jr. might not be available. That's ok because Dan Richards, III would be glad to assist you. He has over 20 years of experience in the motorcycle business.

What's next? Give it a couple of years. Dan Richards, IV, is only four, but he can already ride like his great-grandpa.



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This page last updated 09/04/11