Typical is not a word one would use to describe Gaudet Optical Ltd., a uniquely eclectic eyewear business owned and operated by Doug and Debra Gaudet of Halifax, Nova Scotia. Situated on the west-end of the city, independent individuality better re ects not only the co-owners’ personal outlook on life, but also what they strive to provide their customers and, by all accounts, it is has been a very successful business model. After 29 years and a multitude of business awards and recognitions, Doug Gaudet took a few moments last month to talk about his and his wife’s working philosophy.
by Jackie Muise
Q. What kind of clientele does your store service?
A.Not meaning to sound cliché, but we have clients from every conceivable walk of life. I think the common bond among them all is a sense of individuality. I am of the opinion that spectacles have evolved into one of the best ways to convey that sense.
Q. Why Halifax?
A. Halifax is a very style conscious little city. It needs, practically demands, that we support that sense of style by shopping for a certain echelon of product that just isn’t any- where else. The process wasn’t gradual, but rather something we embraced three decades ago when we realized all of the amazing work being done by the independent frame makers around the world.
Q. What are the primary brand names your store features?
A. The brands we feature make us very proud. (Theo Eyewear, Face-A-Face, Thom Brown, and Dita are only a few of the more than 75 frame companies Gaudet Optical deals with). We have strong long lasting relationships with these companies. Often we know the owners, their designers, and even their families. We have been doing business with some small operations since their very inception. They are the innovators that are able to look way past what is. We love them.
Q. What kind of marketing tools do you use?
A. Our main marketing tool is very old fashioned. We ask our customers to tell a friend about us. And they do. Practically every new person that walks through the door has been referred to us.
Q. What are the challenges of competing with
the chain-store eyeglass outlets?
A. It can be argued as to whether or not we really do compete with the large companies. Everybody has a certain comfort zone to their shopping experience. I know that and can completely relate to it in the way we shop. One can buy a watch at the corner store checkout for two dollars, or one can take out a mortgage for something a little more Swiss. Despite the fact that both items will tell you what time it is, they draw a completely dif- ferent customer and do not really compete with each other. It’s the same for practically anything you might want or need. Q. What are some of the bene ts of operating
an independent outlet?
A. The bene ts of being independent are lengthy. The predominant one though, is the ability to do whatever you want to do. Having that ability enables you to create a space like we have, to design, to imagine, and explore. It lets us be an old school dispensary that can x anything, do anything, and make anything, when it comes to eyeglasses.
Q. Are there any changes or plans for the future for
A. The store is always changing. There’s always new artwork, new music, new lenses, new displays, and, oh yeah…new FRAMES.