VOL. 125 | NO. 124 | Monday, June 28, 2010
Memphis Small Business Spotlight
Navy Vets Provide Motorcycle HQ for ‘Cool Kids’
MARK SULLIVAN | Special to the Daily News
Retired U.S. Navy Chiefs Don Barnett, Jim Brickley and John H. Clark Jr. served their country in ports around the globe with honor for a combined 74 years.
Now they are proudly serving customers in their hometown community, Tipton County.
In January, the threesome realized a dream when they opened Big Creek MotorSports Inc./Big Creek SuckerPunch Sally’s in Munford, 25 miles north of Memphis.
The shop/garage offers the sale of one-of-a-kind SuckerPunch motorcycles, painting and service on choppers of all brands, in-house training for those riders from novice to expert, and monthly entertainment on an in-garage stage. They also have apparel, accessories and parts for all makes and models of motorcycles.
Barnett, Brickley and Clark have been riding and servicing motorcycles since they were young.
“We have always enjoyed motorcycles so we thought it would be a natural fit to own a shop and provide people with honorable sales and service,” said Barnett. “Our goal is to have a place where all the cool kids and adults want to hang out, tell stories and learn about motorcycles. We emphasize the rider and the importance of safety. We are veterans who opened a bike shop and are honored to have served our country with honor, courage and commitment.”
Locating the shop in the community where they retired and now call home was an easy decision.
“Tipton County is one of the largest motorcycle riding populations in the state,” Brickley said. “In the first few months of 2010, our business has exceeded expectations. People are coming to us in droves. They love motorcycles and are searching for honest and quality service. Business is so strong that we are getting close to needing to hire additional mechanics.”
Yolanda Gardner, retired Navy, said she is treated like family at Big Creek.
“They recently completed a custom paint job on my Harley Davidson Heritage Softail motorcycle,” said Gardner. “They interviewed me on what I wanted and we discussed my expectations. When they rolled my newly painted cycle onto the showroom floor, I cried. They did an incredible job representing what is important to me. The red, white and blue, patriotic paint job was perfect. They invested so much of themselves into making sure I was thrilled with the finished product. Tipton County has always needed a customer-friendly, family-focused motorcycle shop.”
The flooding of early May affected Big Creek MotorSports. When the team arrived for business the Monday morning following that weekend’s rains, they faced four feet of water and mud.
“The response to the flooding has been amazing,” Clark said. “We have had many volunteers who have pitched in to lend a helping hand. We are not going to let this act of nature get us down. We have only been open for business a few months. Business is very good. We are coming back stronger than ever.”
Barnett said being in the U.S. Navy has prepared the threesome to be successful entrepreneurs.
“The Navy taught us discipline, multitasking, the importance of organization and communications, and treating everyone with dignity and respect,” Barnett said. “In the Navy, you always had a million things going on at once. The same is in owning a small business. It is that fast pace the military teaches that is helping us be successful.”
Big Creek offers Bike Nights on Thursdays from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., and ongoing training on how to become a stronger and safer rider.
“When people ask me why I ride motorcycles, I tell them because I can smell the honeysuckles,” Barnett said with a laugh. “Riding gives you such freedom. I am much more aware of my surroundings when on a cycle. People of all ages can ride. Riding is something most people do not have to do, but rather feel compelled to – ranging from passion to practicality.”