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S.C.'s Glory Cycles tests model out West

Published September 28, 2012

SEATTLE, WA (BRAIN) — A year after overhauling its retail strategy, boutique road bike seller Glory Cycles of Greenville, South Carolina, is opening a second location across the country in Seattle, Washington.

The new 1,800-square-foot location, overseen by purchasing manager Edward Smith, who was already based in Seattle, will allow Glory to better service its strong online customer base in the Western U.S., said owner Clive de Sousa.

The savings alone on shipping from Greenville to the region should cover the cost of opening the new storefront, he added. A December opening is planned.

Glory has been in business since 2001, originally established in Orlando, Florida, before moving to Columbia, South Carolina, and finally settling in downtown Greenville in January 2011.

In the middle of last year, the shop reinvented itself as a multi-channel retailer with web and brick-and-mortar sales closely integrated in its 2,500-square-foot storefront. Online sales now account for about 90 percent of business, according to de Sousa.

"What we keep in our storefront is not as much inventory for sale, but inventory to see," he said. "We show real-time inventory from our vendors on our website."

Those vendors include Pinarello, Ridley, Look, NeilPryde, Argon 18, Eddy Merckx, Ibis and Orbea. The average bike sale comes in at $4,000 to $5,000, and nothing is priced below $2,000, de Sousa noted.

Along with its retail overhaul, Glory bulked up its social media strategy to include presences on Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter in order to build word-of-mouth.

Its Flickr gallery, featuring stylized shots of clients' custom bike builds as well as shop happenings and rides, is on track to exceed 1 million views in early October.

"It's a truly organic style of growing retail," de Sousa said. That strategy will continue in Seattle, with Glory's YouTube bike reviews, Flickr galleries and other content available on widescreen TVs and iPads, just like in Greenville.

The new location, housed in a triangular-shaped modern-style building in Seattle's Madison Valley neighborhood, was selected to further cultivate Glory's high-end clientele.

"What we were looking for was not a lot of foot traffic at all. We wanted per capita incomes coming through the door to be significant," said de Sousa, adding that Starbucks chairman and CEO Howard Schultz is part of a group ride that passes right in front of Glory's new home every day.

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