For Mike Toursal, owner of Eagle Leather, motorcycles are symbols of independence. When he was growing up in Algeria, he was interested in anything with two wheels. He saved his lunch money to buy a racing bicycle. His father thought it was too dangerous and Mike agreed to sell. But he rode it secretly in the mountains. One day he saw his father driving straight toward him. He was so afraid of his father that he threw the bike on his shoulder and jumped over the side. Luckily it only looked like a cliff and Mike just skidded about fifteen feet down the mountainside. He’s often thought that incident was prophetic—he’d take a jump toward freedom and land on his feet.
He took the leap and came to America when he was twenty eight to chase the American dream. Mike says, “America is the land of opportunity—but you have to work really hard to access that opportunity.” He followed his passion to motorcycles, selling gear at motorcycle swap meets, shows, and rallies and living out of his van. He traveled from north to south and from coast to coast all the while growing his inventory of bike gear. He loved the atmosphere, the energy, the music, the celebration of different bikes. One year at the end of the Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet he learned about Daytona. Though he was warned that it had probably already started, and he’d never find a spot to sell from, he took the leap and began his cross-country trek, ordering more goods as he went. He did so well in Daytona that his van was loaded with top-quality gear. On his way to a swap meet in Portland in 1998, he passed through Tacoma and saw an empty store—a 3,200-feet corner store in Lakewood. He took the leap again, and settled down.
In 2004, Eagle Leather moved into a bigger store in Lakewood and in 2007 an even bigger one—22,000 square feet. He added another store in Auburn. Mike says, “I sell anything from boots to helmets,” he said. “I sell heated clothing, rain gear. I sell big and tall stuff and my own brand, Eagle Leather, that you can’t get anywhere else.”
Now, Eagle Leather is the biggest motorcycle gear retailer in the Northwest. On this Independence Day, Mike says, “Where else but America would my story—would Eagle Leather’s story—even be possible. I wake up each day and come to work grateful for every person who has ever stepped foot in one of my stores, or bought one of my products at a swap meet, because I know my American success story would have been impossible without each and every one of you.”