Name: David Auclair

Age: 72

Title: Owner

Company: Auclair Cycle & Ski, Augusta

About: Problem solvers for bicycles and related products.


What’s your biggest challenge right now?

It’s understanding what the new markets are for this business and for that matter in any other business. Things are pretty much in a dynamic state of change because of the competition from the internet and other suppliers locally as well. The internet has become is a bigger and bigger player in various entities, and it’s everything going down, trying to reduce prices. It’s admirable, but if you are competing with companies that have no local entities. You have powerhouses who can deal with whomever they deal with. We’re competing against Amazon and against a myriad of entities. I would say that Amazon is the No. 1 undoer of traditional retail. Is that good or bad? Well, we’ll find out.

What’s the best advice that anyone has ever given you?

The best advice would have been: Don’t go into small business because it will wreck you. Small business is extremely challenging, and it’s more challenging now. The advice I probably got along the way was just to be wary of the kinds of competition that’s out there. But, you know, you get settled into a way of doing things, and that’s the way it is.

A number of people made comments about it. A lot of people say, “You’re so fortunate to have your own business,” and other people think, “Are you kidding me?”

It is a bear, I got to tell you. It is a bear and it is a wonderful experience. I can’t complain because I made my big-boy decisions and here it is.

How do you foster creativity in yourself or your staff?

Our business is built upon solving problems. The service side of the business is much more predictable and dependable than the retail side, which is a minefield. We try to be real close to people’s needs and wants, and we try to do our business so we can satisfy those needs.

What’s your biggest fear?

There’s no real fear, per se. But there are huge challenges that a small retail like this has, and there are opportunities as well. The biggest fear or doubt is not being able to respond correctly to the marketplace.

The vast storehouse of knowledge is basically myself and my wife, and hopefully we’re making the right decisions. In a business like this, pretty much you are alone to make your own bed and lie in it. Whether it’s comfortable or not is all up to you.

Where do you see your business in five years?

That is a very good question. We are diversifying what we do here. We’re a bike shop and have been for many years, many years. But more recently, we’re expanding into products that have no direct relationship to bicycling, such as antiques and collectibles where there is quite a bit of energy and quite a bit of excitement about moving ahead. Our business has a second floor that used to be full of bikes and stuff and is now full of antiques and collectibles and things like that, and people are responding to it. I’m not necessarily the face they want to see when they come in, but my wife is. Although she has a full-time job other than what’s here, we somehow make it work.

(Bicycle sales) are still a part of the picture for the time being. That might change if we find our newer business takes over the market where we do business. I can’t imagine that our bicycle- or sports-related activities will cease to be, but we’ll see how it goes. You have to be (flexible). My gosh, you have to be.

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