Retail Spotlight: Butch’s Speed Shop

SEMA News—September 2016

BUSINESS

By Clint Simone

Retail Spotlight: Butch’s Speed Shop

Specialization Is the Key to Success

  Retail Store Review
Butch’s moved into its new 4,000-sq.-ft. facility three years ago with the hope of attracting new customers to the shop.
   

Butch Dean has been an off-road racer since the early ‘60s, spending a large majority of his life out in the dirt under the Las Vegas sun. Years of not having the right product available at his fingertips eventually led him to open his own retail space in 1968. After decades of reformation and adapting to a changing marketplace, that retail space still stands today as Butch’s Speed Shop.

Now in its second generation of family ownership, Butch’s—currently owned by Dean’s son, Pat Dean—is considered by many to be Las Vegas’ premier destination for off-road and related products. Being in business for more than 60 years has taught the company’s staff countless lessons on how to stay relevant with the market and offer customers the best overall retail experience.

A Family With a Passion

Walk through the front door of Butch’s Speed Shop and it’s immediately evident that family is centric to the recipe that has made the store work well for so long. And in this case, it is a family that has racing in its blood.

“My father Butch has been racing more or less since 1968,” explained Dean. “Back then, he was a mechanic for the Mint 400 and was building so many cars that he wanted a retail store to get the parts quickly.”

Retail Store Review
The shop comes equipped with a 1,200-sq.-ft. facility, used by the staff to install newly purchased products.
 
   

Butch knew exactly the parts necessary to line the walls of his store, which he decided upon through a very hands-on process: If he needed it out in the desert to race, someone else probably needed it in the store. That same philosophy carried on throughout the years and is still how the shop runs today. Over time, the Dean family and its shop employees have come to be product experts through experience and personal trial.

“We are absolutely a local-based, truly diehard off-road shop,” said Pat Dean about the reasoning behind the parts the company offers. “It’s pretty simple: They come to us to get the parts they need when they race.”

Butch’s supports the Southern Nevada Off Road Racing Enthusiasts (SNORE) racing series and provides a large inventory of products dedicated to that style of racing. Because of that strategy, Butch’s has kept many of the same customers for the last 20-plus years. As the customers grow in their racing endeavors, Butch’s has been there along the way to provide the regionally specialized parts and service they need.

“When you travel outside of the state of Nevada, our name is not as well-known,” Dean said. “However, the Las Vegas community knows us well, and that is something that we are very proud of.”

Adapting to the Times

  Retail Store Review
Part of Butch’s strategy moving forward is to include the rapidly growing RZR market in their retail offerings.
   

“Because our family has been in and around off-road racing for so long, we have seen the way things change, and we try our best to work with that,” said Dean.

In the case of desert-series off-road racing, one of the biggest changes that came into play was the switch from air cooling to water cooling.

“When we first started, Volkswagen was about it in terms of what people used off road,” Dean said. “In the last 10 to 15 years, Chevy and some of the others have entered, and now almost everything is water cooled, so we have switched our inventory to reflect that.”

Dean shared that off-road racing is not always the quickest form of racing to change, but when it does, that change tends to stick and not go away. That form of advancement keeps the shop on its toes, always offering the latest products to its customers.

Another major change in the market for Butch’s Speed Shop has been the addition of the RZR and other UTVs into the off-road setting. Butch’s has recently been working with industry experts who know the RZR market to sharpen the shop’s offerings and bring it up to speed on what products consumers are after for their UTVs. The store plans to offer more RZR products as time goes on and the RZR segment develops. Dean himself sees the RZR as an integral part of the off-road racing niche for many years to come.

“This is something that we are looking to capitalize on,” he said. “The RZR has become a huge part of the off-road market. The presence is absolutely there.”

Keeping the Customer in Mind

Retail Store Review
The shop features products from more than 70 different vendors—many of which are selected personally by the Dean family because of their own off-road experience.
 
   

When a retail shop serves a small, niche market, there are some foundational principles to make it stand out as the go-to place for what the market needs. In addition to carrying the right products for the right people, Butch’s abides by some simple but important rules that ensure customers keep coming back.

“We run a tight ship around here,” Dean said. “The store is always clean and professional-looking for customers.”

Even though the shop comes with a sizeable installation area in the back, you won’t find tools and parts lying around. Every piece of equipment has a place and is kept where it belongs. The Dean family shows obvious pride in its orderly facility, which it moved into just a few years ago to freshen up the look and feel of the retail floor.

Despite changing times, new online competition and other bumps along the way, Butch’s Speed Shop will continue to accommodate the same market of racers that inspired its existence in the first place. While the company always has the door open for new customers and a fully functioning online store to serve those outside the Las Vegas area, the shop holds on tight to its purposeful roots and has made them part of its core identity. The Deans’ story illustrates how a brick-and-mortar facility can earn customer loyalty by offering not just parts and service but also highly specialized expertise on a local level.

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