How long have you been in business?
The shop is going on seven years. Time flies!
Can you explain how the idea for a store came to be?
I had been working in bike shops for a good part of my life. In those shops BMX was always pushed aside for road and mountain bikes. I was at the point in my life where I was tired of seeing that happen and wanted to give BMX a home in Rhode Island. So I gave it a shot and we are still here.
Who owns the shop? Who works there?
Me (Victor Bettencourt) and my wife, Cara, own the shop. I’m here running the shop on a daily basis and she handles the books and anything else business-related. I have a core group of guys that help me out in the busier seasons. Eric Hennessey is here during the summer months. Bobby Proctor and Dom Carnasciale help me out throughout the year also. Plus a number of other guys that lend a hand when needed.
What events have you done at Circuit in the past few years?
We have done a good amount of events in the past. Video premieres, photo shows, anniversary parties, we’ve had some bands play, Foot Down World Championships, BMX Olympics, pro team visits and so on. Being in our new location and having a new daughter slowed the events down a bit but we hope to get back on track this year.
What changes have you noticed in the scene since the shop opened?
There have been a few new parks to the area and plenty of new faces in the scene, which is a good thing. I’ve witnessed a better sense of community form with the younger kids. Gotta keep the kids excited cause they are they future of the scene. Also we have a lot more people passing through to ride the city and other spots so that’s pretty rad that the shop has become a destination of sorts. I ate chilly with Ron Wilkerson. Life is complete!!
What does Circuit offer that mail-order doesn’t?
We are a 100% BMX Shop, how many of those are there? We offer a one-on-one experience that you just don’t get with online shopping. I’ve had few customers that purchase products online then bring them in telling me it’s they not what they ordered or what they wanted. I’m able to help people choose the right part or complete bike that will work for their bike and riding style. Circuit is like a curated selection of my favorite products so when you shop here you know you’re leaving with quality goods. I don’t fall prey to BMX fads, and brands that could care less about BMX who just see a quick buck in it. I try to steer the younger riders in that direction too and encourage them to just be themselves. It is hard to compete with the online retailers but we have lots of support from the local scene and we give that love back with our hands in service. I take good care of every customer whether you’re a regular or not. We do offer free service on all completes purchased in the store. Also, we offer local events and give you a place to hang out. No online store can do that for you!
Strangest experience selling an Animal product:
I have this one older man that owns a hair salon around the corner that buys Animal Fitted hats because he saw Lil’ Wayne with one. He always has his pink Maltese with him! Is that strange?
Why carry Animal?
We carry Animal because Ralph and the crew working at Animal ride and live BMX and know what’s up! Ralph has been around long enough to know how to make a brand work and it shows with the quality products Animal delivers. We only deal with brands that stand behind what they put out and Animal does that 100%.
What’s something you never expected to happen after opening Circuit?
Keeping it open! HA! Right before I opened my buddy “Snotty” (Chris Morse) looked at the location with me and said “Its only a year of your life; if it doesn’t work, fuck it.” That’s something that stuck with me until this day. I’d say the amount of support that came about initially was surprising also. It just shows that we needed something like Circuit in the area.
Any future plans for the shop?
I’m always thinking of what to do next around here. Little tweaks here and there, winter is a good time for that. We’ve had three locations since we started and I have a feeling we will probably move again in the future. I’m always looking forward.
How many trends have you seen come and go since you have been open?
I guess certain parts, brands, colorways could fall in that trend category but I try not to think of what people are doing as trends. They are just doing what they want to do. I’m sure they are influenced by something because originality is just about impossible. For some people BMX is the trend.
What is the best thing you gained or witnessed from owning/ starting Circuit?
I’ve gained so much and witnessed some. I’ve gained many new friends and the knowledge they have passed on. I’ve witnessed kids that come in a get their first BMX bikes become young adults and amazing riders. Thinking of that is wild. Does that mean I’m getting older too?
If you can have one BMX product that doesn’t exist yet what would it be?
Circuit frames and railed seats?
Where do you see Circuit in ten years?
Owning a building with a ramp/park in it. A bigger and better Circuit BMX!! Thanks to everyone out there that supports Circuit and BMX.
Location: Pawtucket, Rhode Island
Shop address: 33 Exchange St.
Hours: Mon: Closed; Tues-Fri 12-6; Sat 10-6; Sun 11-3
Contact info: 401-305-3636 circuitbmx.com
Promo for last year’s New England Jam Chowda.
2010 FBM Gypsy Tour section