Like a lot of retired university professors with a Ph.D. in business logistics, Janice Bowers decided to open a motorcycle ministry and support that ministry by selling and fixing motorcycles under the banner of World War II cultural icon Rosie the Riveter.
Rosie’s 1901 Garage & Trading Post on Halls Mill Road in Mobile is a two-sided operation housed in four separate buildings that look a bit like a city block from the days of Model T Fords. The business side of the operation has two showrooms, one for Bowers’ Indian Motorcycles franchise and another for Triumph Motorcycles. There’s also a service area where motorcycles are serviced and repaired.
All that pays for the other side of Rosie’s, a nonprofit motorcycle ministry that offers space for meetings and fellowship. “We’re a motorcycle ministry, first and foremost, but we also sell motorcycles, ” Bowers says.
The Indian Motorcycle franchise came first, with the Triumph franchise being added shortly thereafter. “They’re two classic, iconic motorcycle brands that fit well together, ” she says. Profits on the business side pay for her husband Paul’s motorcycle ministry after she deducts expenses and salaries for her six paid employees. “Everybody here gets paid except Paul and me, ” she says.
Their compensation is ministering to the “1 percent clubs, ” outlaw riders with the Hell’s Angels, Bandidos and other groups that “need God too, ” in her words.
When the crew filming the motion picture “USS Indianapolis: Men of Courage” were shooting in Mobile, “They came in looking for an old-time motorcycle, ” says Bowers. “The minute they saw it, they said, ‘We want this one.’”
The movie, starring Nicolas Cage, is scheduled for release in May.
Text by Dave Helms