VOL. 126 | NO. 217 | Monday, November 7, 2011
Memphis Small Business Spotlight
Victory Bicycle Spins its Wheels In Roomier Space on Broad
By JOHN LINTNER
Victory Bicycle Studio recently opened the doors to its new store at 2549 Broad Ave., just more than a year after its original location caught fire.
Robert Taylor, left, and Clark Butcher are co-owners of Victory Bicycle Studio, which has relocated from Cooper-Young to 2549 Broad Ave.
(Photo: Lance Murphey)
Weeks after Clark Butcher and Robert Taylor opened Victory, fire damaged the store – on Young Avenue in the Cooper-Young neighborhood. The duo renovated the Young Avenue space and reopened there early this year.
In the wake of the fire, Butcher and Taylor planned to open a larger location based on the amount of business they had after the store first opened.
“We loved Cooper-Young,” Butcher said. “The community was great. The landlord was great. We thoroughly enjoyed it. The move was completely because we just simply needed space. No doubt, my business partner, Robert Taylor – he and I both found it to be imperative that we had more space, and we absolutely wanted to purchase something as opposed to leasing.”
The building they bought increased Victory’s space from 550 square feet to 2,500 square feet. And the Broad Avenue site’s close proximity to the Shelby Farms Greenline allows customers to use the greenline for test rides.
Victory is a full-service bike shop that includes sales, maintenance and now trainer classes, the last being a product of having more room in which to work.
The new store offers a variety of group sessions designed for people of all levels of experience. Individuals bring their bicycles to classes and attach them to the provided stationary trainers. Victory holds classes four days a week.
The classes are led by a trainer and focus on improving fitness on the bike through gradually increasing the amount of wattage, or power, produced by the cyclist.
The social component of stationary rides is almost as much of a draw as the workout itself, Butcher said. People interested in signing up can do so on a monthly basis and are placed in one of two groups that meet twice weekly.
“If it fills up, there’s a possibility that there ends up being an evening class after shop hours,” Butcher said. “It’s definitely something we can’t do during retail hours.
“The classes cost $100 per month, which comes out to be somewhere around $12 per class – which is completely affordable.”
Butcher has been riding and racing all over the U.S. and abroad for roughly 12 years, and he and Taylor have had a working relationship almost the entire time. Through their combined expertise came the idea to form a partnership and open a local specialty bike shop.
“Robert specializes in fittings,” Butcher said. “Basically, you can’t just take a bike off the rack and ride it 100 miles. You need to be fitted for it, and that’s our biggest niche. The biggest niche that we’re known for is we’re not a high-end shop, we’re a high-service shop. Folks know when they come here they’re going to talk to somebody that knows absolutely everything about what they’re talking about.”
Victory also holds outdoor group rides that start from the store every Sunday at 8:30 a.m. Generally not for new cyclists, the group ride averages about 50 miles and is aimed at cycling enthusiasts.
Most of Butcher and Taylor’s business strategy was focused on avoiding the “elitist” label, Butcher said. The pair wanted the store to be accessible to a variety of customers by offering a broad range of bikes and group activities, he added.
“At Victory, the goal is not to sell you a bike; it’s to sell you the right bike,” Butcher said.
Many bicycles Victory carries cost around $500, simply because the store isn’t trying to reach out to the top 1 percent of the market. Though Victory carries bikes that cost more, it is more in the business of taking care of the everyday cyclist, Butcher said.
He and Taylor are also very particular about the products they purchase, only carrying brands they believe to be the best in each price tier.
“Whether (the customer) is spending $500 or $10,000, they’re going to get the exact same level of service,” Butcher said. “That’s what we’ve brought to Memphis, and that’s what folks are really responding to. We look at each customer as an investment. We want to absolutely make sure they are happy on their bike, enjoy the sport and come back for years.”