A quick look behind the scenes at Clever Training

This past week post-marathon limping, The Girl and I have been down at the beach with friends, enjoying the sun.  The Girl and her family, as well as many family friends have long come down to the greater Tampa area to get away from the cold (remember, she grew up in Newfoundland, Canada – home to miserable winter weather).  So, this fell right in line with that tradition.

While most of our time has been spent in the sun and sand, we did break away briefly to go shopping at visit with the Clever Training (CT) folks.  Obviously, while I’ve got a great partnership with them that you guys all benefit from in the form of the DCR-reader 10% off everything coupon – it’s good to get to see all the folks behind the scenes and how it works (including some of your orders).

Now many of you may not realize that CT isn’t actually just an internet retailer.  Nope, they have a full-on retail store at the beach.

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They’ve got Wednesday evening runs that attract about 40-50 folks  (unfortunately, I didn’t realize it until post-dinner plans were made).  And, you can even rent stand-up paddleboards (my plan for tomorrow).  No, you’re not allowed to watch me, it’ll likely result in me spending a lot of time in the water since it’s been years since the last time I tried.

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Roughly every 2-3 weeks, those runners fill up a bin of running shoes that go off to charity:

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Of course, unless you live in the Tampa area, you’re likely more familiar with the online side of things – which all happens in a large warehouse space.

First, products arrive from manufactures and distributors.  Hundreds of boxes per day of stuff.

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It was interesting looking at the random stuff that arrived today.  For example, 4iiii’s Viiiiva straps:

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And then right down the row was New Balance activity monitors mixed with FitBit’s, and then next to it Barfly’s.  In between was nutrition.

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It’s slightly weird looking at the pending boxes though, because everything comes in a totally different box.  No standardization since it’s from all over the world, so it kinda looks like how you store Christmas decorations in the attic.

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The Girl was super-excited at first thinking that the below just arrived boxes has Jelly Belly candy in it (and thus, the potential of getting candy at the shop).  Then she remembered it was just the running nutrition from the company.  While still good, not quite on the same level as the candy itself.  Don’t feel too bad though, we’ve compensated with all sorta of only-available-in-America candy this week.

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Once things are unboxed it goes into a number of different bays and racks.  For example, this bay is full of big bulky items like car racks and trainers.  Given we’re coming out of the winter, there’s far less trainers then there would be in the fall with potentially hundreds of trainers on deck at a time.

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Next to that was one of a few rows of shoes.  All sorts of stuff from Newton’s to Salomon:

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In general, things are organized by logical category grouping.  For example, a bunch of nutrition stuff together:

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Or a gazillion socks together.  This, is where The Girl got distracted for some time with the Feetures she loves to wear:

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Also then she was likewise distracted in the Maui Jim sunglasses area:

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For some items where there may not be too many ‘family friends’, they get put into more of a general wall of sorta-like things. For example, the new Shimano Di2 shifting pod required for the new Garmin Edge 1000 and Mio Cyclo 505 shifting integration.  It was hanging out below some TomTom cycling sensors, and then to its left an iPhone camera lens.

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Eventually you make it into the good stuff, which is where most of the items I review are.   For example, ever need a GoPro mount?

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Or how about a Garmin accessory?

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Honestly, it kinda reminds me of my stash.  Except, just way more organized.

Perhaps you needed a new TomTom, Garmin, or Polar unit.  Even the equestrian Polar stuff is in there (that’s for horses, which is very different than ‘Clydesdale’ category participants):

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I even found things in there I’d never heard of.  Did you know that Timex at one point made a little clicky pedometer?  It’s approaching antique status – but there’s precisely one of them available left for one lucky person.  Complete with Indiglo!

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My ‘take-home’ for the day was the Sony AS-100V action cam. I’ve used the slightly older model, but haven’t had a chance to play with this one, which was announced back in January and just recently hit shelves:

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Of course – my favorite item was seeing the shelf for the swim buoys, specifically, the DCR branded one – with the DCR sticker you get right next to it.

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Which, brings me to the next piece.  Once an order is submitted, it gets a ticket printed out for it, and then warehouse staff run around with a cart like Mario Kart and add all the items to the cart for a bunch of orders.

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In this case, that actually happened to include the DCR swim buoy.  To the reader in Northridge, CA that ordered it and had your swim buoy shipped on Thursday – this is yours.  Yes, I touched it.  Sorry, that probably decreased its value significantly.

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Once packaged up it goes out to a big bin of shipments waiting to be picked up by the various carriers.  For most orders, that’s USPS.  USPS picks up 3 times a day from them, which is kinda impressive.  But if you ordered something with express shipping, they swing by a bunch of times as well.

But what happens if you have a question with your order?  Well, more than likely that’ll go to Mariah.  At least, most DCR reader orders tend to anyway.

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Like most of the staff at Clever Training, she competes in endurance sports.  She’s racing in the St. Anthony’s Triathlon this weekend – her first triathlon ever in fact.  A number of others are competing in the Tampa airport 5K this weekend as well (my registration attempt there was thwarted by a few hours of it filling up).

The walls throughout the office have large blown-up photos of other employees racing, mostly in endurance races:

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And, failing that, certificates of questionable achievements instead:

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Overall, there are over 30 folks that work at Clever Training, here’s a group pic from about a month ago.  Apparently they all accidentally wore the same thing to work that day:

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Like I said –  this was just aimed to give you a quick tour of things behind the scenes, and to put some faces to the names you may see.  Now…I need to get back to the sand:

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Have a great weekend all!  And if you’re racing – good luck!

24 Comments

  1. Josh Parks

    Thanks for the update Ray. I figured you would make the most of your U.S. visit but this is something. My first thought was...'FL is nowhere near Boston.' Then again a few hours in the plane never stopped you. Thanks again for sharing.

    Reply
  2. Great post. A big hello and thanks to the team of Clever Training.

    Reply
  3. skijeti

    I like the idea of wearing shorts on work, can i get a job there :)

    Reply
    • Rainmaker replied

      ...and that's before you found out they also get lunch provided every day too!

      Reply
  4. Alice

    oh, that white sand is soo inviting! :)

    Reply
  5. Lew

    How totally cool to see a picture of Mariah, whom I've traded emails with (V800 preorder).

    Thanks for the "behind the curtain" look.

    Reply
    • Guillaume replied

      I was going to say the same thing, when I saw the picture, I thought - what are the chances this is the same lady who answers all my questions... There she is! Thanks for all your help Mariah! ;)

      Reply
  6. Richard Kaufmann

    I've used Clever Training several times, and have to say they are an amazingly responsive and helpful company. It's nice to see them in their native habitat.

    I had the pleasure of talking to Mariah today, who helped me untangle a shipping issue. She was incredibly helpful.

    Anyway, independent confirmation that CT is a great outfit to do business with.

    Reply
  7. Bryan Stokes

    Ray, thanks for taking us on a tour! Also, the benefits we receive are great too. Thanks!

    And to Clever Training, thank you for giving DCR readers such great prices and service! You've made a customer for life.

    Bryan

    Reply
  8. Mike B

    Thanks for the tour Ray! I have had only positive experiences with Clever Training. Super-helpful customer service.

    Reply
  9. Mikey

    You should.ve signed the buoy.

    Reply
  10. Gunnar

    Thanks Ray! Love seeing the Brick and Mortar store. Makes it real. Great company. My Viiiiva strap might have been in that box.....just ordered it yesterday from CT.

    Reply
  11. Alvin G

    Small world, I'm from NoVA and have spent the last week a mile from their retail store here in Indian Rocks Beach. Wish I'd thought to look around for fun runs!

    Reply
  12. Lior

    I've made my first order from CT this week, nice to see what's on the other side of the web site.

    Reply
  13. I love that aggressive heelstrike on the packaging of the NB pedometer! Haha, I forgot those were still a thing.

    Reply
  14. Luc

    Hi Ray, do they have an easy Canadian shipping solution to avoid import charges?
    As always, great review of The Girl 's marathon, you both merit a bit of R/R!!!

    Reply
  15. Jose

    Thanks for the tour! When looking at the Polar stuff I was asking myself what could be delaying the V800 release. Wondering if the issues are logistical or technical - the second much more concerning then the first. They fell behind Garmin after the FenixII being released...
    Can't wait for your re-review for the production V800 as my choice will definately be between Garmin and Polar.

    Reply
  16. Theo

    Hey Ray,
    Good thinking on the FL holiday. My family and I were just there also, although we hit Orlando, KSC and Daytona. In the 'it's a small world' department, my son ran into a classmate of his at Disney World and we met our next-door neighbors on the plane coming in from Houston... it would have been funny and somehow not that surprising to have run into you down there.
    By the way: Rocket launches (of the Falcon 9 variety, etc.) are way cool. If you ever get a chance to catch one then don't pass it up.

    Reply
  17. SimonNZ

    Ordered my Garmin FR220 from them today with the 10% discount. Nice!

    Hopefully it will arrive on or around the same day I do to the NYC hotel I am staying at later this week...

    Reply
  18. Robert Black

    I'm tempted to give them a go, what's holding me back is will garmin uk honour the warranty should there ever be a problem?

    Reply
  19. Bob Goodman

    I've been trying to order some stuff at Clever Training this weekend, but I can't sign in to their online store and they have not answered my emails. I'm a VIP customer. Are you aware of any issues down there?

    Reply
    • Ray Maker replied

      Hmm, that's definitely strange - I haven't heard of any issues. Let me forward your note (with your e-mail address) real quick to them. I suspect we'll have an answer by morning. Sorry!

      Reply

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