Circuit BMX is an extremely dialed BMX specific shop, a few miles north of Providence in a town called Pawtucket, Rhode Island. The guy behind the scenes at Circuit is Vic Bettencourt, a dedicated BMXer through and through. Here's a few words with him.
Can you tell us about your store, Circuit BMX, and why you decided to start a BMX specific shop?
Circuit started as a thought of helping the local scene grow and come together, giving the riders a home. With instant support from the BMX community, it grew into what it is today. I couldn't be happier with the crew of riders that support the shop (and their parents of course.) It's pretty sweet. Thanks everyone. I couldn't imagine having anything else but a BMX shop, it's my life. I get lots of people telling me that I'm crazy for not servicing road and mountain bikes, but I've done that and just wanna keep things simple. I'm not in it for the cash. If so, I would have opened a full service shop.
Location: The Grant on 250 Main St. Pawtucket, RI
Hours: Tues-Fri 12-6, Sat 10-6 Sun 11-3
Words of Wisdom: "BMX is not about progression to me; it's about longevity."
Started just over two years ago, Circuit BMX is a full-service BMX shop that's hosted its fair share of video premieres, BMX art shows and even a few BMXer-fronted rock band nights.
Can you give us a brief history of the Providence scene, and the greater New England BMX scene as you know it?
I grew up in Fall River, MA, right on the RI border. It had a huge BMX scene in the mid to late '80s, BMX track. As far as the Providence scene, Greg Souza was the driving force in organizing the earlier freestyle comps, and then Kevin Robinson opened Impact Skatepark in the '90s and that was awesome. I think he did a real good thing for BMX in the area. People still talk about Impact to this day. But I'd say Skater Island was the best park this area has ever seen and probably ever will. As of right now, I don't think the scene could be better. Trails, parks, street. We've even got a BMX track again!
What's up wit the trail scene in New England? Your trails?
There are probably 10 sets that I know of that run well, and I'm sure there are other kids out there working on new sets. The sets that stand out to me would be Cumby, RI and Dover, NH. The guys in Dover build some awesome stuff and we've had a good year in Cumby. We have a five-man crew now, so the digging sesh's have been awesome. Everyone has gotten real protective of their spots and that is good. Skaters build skateparks and once they are built, they aren't going anywhere, whereas most BMXers build trails on someone else's land with the threat that it won't be there tomorrow. So being vigilant is important to secure your spot. I think that says a lot for how passionate trail builders are. So to everyone that sticks a shovel in the ground, beers are on me!
Over the years, it seems as though it's been tough for other shops to rely solely on BMX, but you appear to be doing well. What are some of the hardships in doing a BMX specific shop and why do you think others have failed?
It's tough to say cause it could all stop tomorrow. Everybody has there runs and I learn as I go. I really just try to be fair and honest to every one that comes in. Like I said, I'm not here to get rich. To me it's about having fun and getting kids and parents psyched on BMX. The same way I was psyched when I was a kid and still am today. I still feel that same feeling everyday, just being happy to be on the bike. BMX is not about progression to me; it's about longevity. I heard Johnny O once say, "The hardest trick to do in BMX is to keep riding your bike." So with that being said, as long as we keep kids psyched on BMX, Circuit will be sticking around.
What kind of promotions do you you rely on?
We hold plenty of events, premieres and numerous sales throughout the year just to keep things fresh and have some fun. Having teams come by is pretty awesome too. I think kids get really psyched when they get to meet a "pro" they've seen in a mag and realize how down to earth everyone is. We all share the same passion no matter what level you're on and that is an eye opener.
With the market seemingly flooded with frames, completes, components and accessories, how do you decide which brands to support?
Well if it's made in the U.S., then expect to see it here. It's always good to know the person that makes your bike. There is a certain pride that comes along with that and the more people that understand that the better off we'll all be. Not to sound like a bike snob, but the products I stock are based on the quality of the brand. I don't wanna stock an item that the customer is gonna bring back broken after a few months. Granted, even higher end products wear and break but you definitely see the trends over time. So stocking higher end products saves us all some time and headaches in the long run.
Do you have any stories of ridiculous BMX related situations with young customers?
I guess the only situations I've had are kids stealing from the shop and customers, and bikes getting stolen from outside the shop. It bums me out that kids that consider themselves BMXers would steal from one another just to have the newest part. I'd say the funniest question I get is kids asking me to order products from mailorder companies. I always explain to them, "That would be like Wal-Mart buying from Target!"
If it's made in the U.S., then expect to see it here.
--Vic Bettencourt/Circuit BMX
What cycles/trends have you noticed in the time you've run this shop? What constants are there to contrast them to?
The obvious cycles would be color matching your bike, but didn't bell bottoms make a comeback in the '90s. Everything comes full circle and it's hard to be original nowadays cause it's all been done before. You can only really build on someone else's ideas. The only originality I really see is the way people are riding these days. Constants would be well built products that actually have some thought and design behind them. Not cookie cutter products that are released just to have a name out in the market.There are good and bad designs out there and the bad ones always fail. Who wants to ride a product that is always failing? The companies that are actually trying to do something original and keep things fresh, those are the constants and will always sell.
Who are some of your favorite riders?
I like to watch anyone ride that is having a good time. But specifically, Eric Hennessy, Coleman Lopes, Snotty, The Ginch Bros, Kelly Baker, Dr. Pinzon, Mullville and anyone over 30 that loves to cruise.
Top three videos in the classic VHS bin at Circuit?
This one is easy. 1201, Lights Out and Anthem. Thanks Stew!
Everyone that supports Circuit. Thank you. And all my buds that help me out. Plus Cara and Cub for being awesome.