Each week we are showcasing an ENVE dealer that sets themselves apart through the cycling culture they help cultivate, the service provided to the community, and how they’ve created a loyal following of core cyclists. The collection of shops from all over the globe each have their own unique vision for what creates the best resource for the cycling community while all sharing the same passion for bicycles.
Ten years ago Clark Butcher turned his passion for racing into something he could share with his community and opened Victory Bicycle Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. Over the years the shop’s investment in helping grow the cycling community has created a loyal customer base that includes a weekly training group of 170 cyclists. Victory Bicycle Studio is an official ENVE Ride Center and offers a wheel demo program for customers. Clark describes what makes Victory Bicycle Studio unique.
What is your specialty?
Our specialty is service. Simple. We have our forte and departments that definitely stand out, but we are most known for our service. We always say, “We’re a service store that happens to sell bikes.” This could not be more true! This all starts with the customer engagement from the moment of entering the store. We follow the same procedure with everyone that comes through the door. Get to know them, how they heard about us, and what part of town they live in. We want our customers to know that we’re their neighbor, and we’re here for them. If you do that first, they’ll shop with you for years, and refer all their friends. Go straight for the sale, and you’re screwing up in the long run.
What is the shop history?
I started this business with a partner in 2010. We began with a combined $15,000 and a 500sq ft shop with a 1 year lease. Yeah, you read that right! 500sq ft included retail, maintenance, fit stage, checkout, office, and bathroom. Looking back, it was awesome, and so easy to clean!!….and then the craziest thing happened. The store burned down 28 days after we opened. In 28 days we had more than made our investment back, business was booming, we already had offsite storage to handle the load, and keep up with growth, and then a fire started in the retail bay next door to us. Fortunately, nobody was hurt and everybody was insured. Ya know…nobody writes a book on how to relaunch your business after 28 successful days and a total loss. Everything was destroyed. It was awful, but we re-built, LITERALLY, and re-launched our brand 3 months later, and we were attacking the market full force! We each invested further, and finished off our 1 year lease, before purchasing a 2550sq ft building a few miles away in an “up & coming Historic Arts District.” Well, it was a great decision, as the City of Memphis put in bike lanes 4ft from our front door just a few months later. And, we owned the building! We grew and grew, and ultimately, I bought my business partner out of his ownership in 2014. Since, the business has grown rapidly, and now operates with 7 Full Time Employees in a 4700sq ft store dedicated to building our very own local riding community, and shipping bikes, equipment, and Victory branded apparel all over the world.
Why are riders loyal to you and your shop?
Us. We are the brand. I believe our customers are loyal to us, because of us. We don’t just sit and wait for customers to come in. Through training groups, spin classes, (sold out for nearly 9 years!) community engagement, and care, our customers want us to do well. I tell all my guys that! At the end of the day, I believe everyone has a choice where to spend their money, and I am grateful that our customers have confidence in my team and I.
What programs or services have you launched during the COVID-19 pandemic?
In the 1st few months we offered FREE delivery within 20 miles on everything in the store, and free delivery for all online purchases. Our best offering has been our Nutrition Box! I came up with this one by simply being engaged with my customers. When everything started closing-up around town, I was watching Strava and seeing that customers were riding more than ever. We teach everyone about the importance of sports nutrition through our Training Clinics, and I knew that our customers needed MORE fuel than ever, because they were riding more. We added an inner tube and a jar of chamois cream to the box, and priced it accordingly. We shipped and continue to ship these boxes all over the country, deliver them all over town, and ultimately have kept our customers engaged and a great line of communication during a time when everyone needs it most.
Do we have an infamous or awesome group ride or clinic?
Four years ago we launched a “Couch to 50 mile” Training Group. This was all an idea I dreamed-up after getting burnt by trying the “sponsor a team” dated bike shop model. I decided that I wanted to build a customer base. I wanted to build a massive marketing team, and not focus all my attention on 9 guys…..And, it worked. The 1st year we had over 120 riders join us. This Group Training includes weekly group rides with my staff (they are paid extra to be a part of the Training Group) monthly training clinics, and a matching jersey. You know what happens when you financially incentivize your staff to help? I will tell you – they give a damn! And, it allows you to focus on the business, and naturally builds great relationships between myself, my staff, and my customers. To give you an idea of this program’s success, we are now in our 4th year, keep improving the model, and have over 170 riders in the current Training Group. That’s a ton of engagement that no online store can do. And a ton of customers telling all their friends how great it is. Thanks to the commitment of my staff, we have a Group Training model that is unlike anything else offered, anywhere.
What are you currently riding right now?
Currently I am riding a custom Moots gravel bike, a Scott Foil road bike, a Moots YBB mountain bike, and my sick new Scott E-Mountain Bike. My favorite is my gravel bike. It’s custom geometry for me. As my standover rivals that of most 4th graders, and my torso rivals that of a Memphis Grizzly basketball player, I needed custom…and wanted custom. The team at Moots and I worked for months designing my dream bike. It’s a Routt RSL front end and mostly a Routt 45 rear end. Some tweaks allow me to ride an optimal 650×47 tire, my favorite. Truly, for years I just rode my gravel bike and my road bike. Most trails in Memphis are rideable on 650b wheels, and there was no need for a true mountain bike, and then I screwed-up and borrowed a sweet Mountaineer 29er from Moots while on a recent trip in Steamboat Springs, CO.
What is one act of maintenance you wished every customer would learn to do on their own?
Clean your bike. Clean Bike, Happy Bike! We teach our customers how to take care of their equipment. In fact, it’s the very 1st clinic we have for our training groups. Explaining that unlike a vehicle, which has a hood covering its motor and drivetrain, these bicycles do not. And, the drivetrain sits just inches from the ground, collecting debris, grit, etc.
What is one that they shouldn’t?
The snob in me wants to say, “Don’t try and wrap your handlebars.” It reminds me of when I started in the workforce post college. My mentor said to me “Don’t iron your own shirts, because everyone can tell you did it. Get them dry cleaned and pressed.” That can not be any more similar to wrapping your own handlebars. While you may be getting “better” at it, we can all tell you did it yourself. At the end of the day, you have to hold your handlebars.
What is my favorite ENVE product?
The road compact handlebar. It is the perfect drop, flat enough top, and short reach. I ride that bar on all my drop bar bikes! It’s light, comfortable, and looks clean when pairing it with the other ENVE goodies!