Tennessee Valley Bicycles, 210 W. Magnolia, Knoxville, March 2017
As downtown businesses go in our current era, Tennessee Valley Bicycles is a long-timer. (Complete profile here) With stores, restaurants and businesses of various sorts proliferating almost faster than we can keep track, TVB has been on Magnolia – now at it’s third spot in the same building – for almost ten years. Previously operating on Chapman Highway, it moved to Magnolia in 2007, eventually shifting to the spot it has held until recently. It has now moved to 210 West Magnolia – two doors down from its most recent spot.
The move may not represent a big leap in terms of distance covered, but it represents a quantum leap in comfort for the customer and employees and simple functionality. The previous shop covered about 1500 square feet and the new address offers 4200 on two levels. The difference is palpable when entering the front door. The bikes previously suspended from the roof were cool, but impossible to see. Co-owner Scott Smith said customers were hesitant to ask for them to be taken down for viewing. Not an ideal situation for selling bikes.
The improvements go far beyond accessible stock. In the old store all bike repairs had to be completed in the small space not filled with bikes, equipment or accessories. While some repairs will be completed on the sales floor at 210 W. Magnolia, a basement level provided the space for a true repair center. Some of the build-out is still being completed there, but it’s already in use and makes quite a difference both for customers and the employees doing the repairs. The increased area for repairs will allow them to build a mountain-bike suspension table, for example, and will allow them to make sure they keep repair speeds as fast as possible.
The move has also opened other opportunities and allowed changes for the better. The staff currently consists of Scott, three full-time employees and a part time employee. The part-time employee will soon be full time as the business has grown. Customers will also find a cooler with beer for sale to go or to enjoy while you hang out in the store. Scott said getting the license seemed like an obvious move.
If enjoying a beer isn’t enough to help you relax, a large back room (with a cool view of the back of the Mill and Mine) is now used for weekly yoga classes. Classes currently meet Wednesday mornings from 6:15 AM to 7:30 with yogi Kristen Evans. Classes cost $12 with a two dollar discount for anyone who rides their bike to the class. Scott’s hoping to increase it to twice weekly, probably with the addition of Friday morning classes.
The last weeks have been a whirlwind, culminating in opening at the new address on March 1. The staff completed much of the internal construction, including the slat wall lining one side of the store. While signs of the recent move persist, the improvement to the sales floor, both visually and simply in customer comfort is immediately obvious. The same great accessories, equipment and bikes are available, but they are much easier to browse with the increased space.
Other activities are ongoing: Monday night road bike rides leave at 6:00 PM and are open to all levels. An easy mountain bike ride is held each Wednesday, leaving from another spot, such as the Baker Creek Preserve or Ijams. Women’s rides are held on third Thursdays, and leave from the shop, usually heading for Sharpe’s Ridge.
The shop also offers demos and rentals. Mountain bikes are available for $70 per day or $250 per week and road bikes are available for $25 – $150 depending on the duration. The group has also offered, with some offset from a sponsor, free bike usage to Big Ears ticket holders. This year, in the absence of a sponsor, they will do it anyway. Scott said they made the decision because, “It makes their trip better and it makes our city cooler.”
They have some events coming up you might want to catch, as well with a lunch following an AMBC workday at IC King Park on March 25 and a very exciting event on April 8 at the Baker Creek Preserve. Kona bikes will be there for a demo, offering participants the chance to ride high-end bikes on the trails. Additionally, pro riders will be on hand to give demonstrations. After the event, the party continues at the Magnolia shop for their grand opening.
Stop in and see the new store. Follow them on Facebook to keep up with current events in TVB world and visit their website for more detail. And if you’re doing Big Ears and need a ride (I highly recommend using a bike for the event), here’s your chance.