Bristol family revives shop
BRISTOL — A Bristol couple looking to revitalize a Main Street business is overhauling Reed’s Auto Supply and hoping to draw customers to Bristol’s downtown.
The new Forand’s Auto Supply, owned by husband-and-wife team Cathleen and Eric Forand, opened in March. For the Forands, purchasing the store previously owned by Mike Reed offered the chance to work close to home, realize their dream of owning a small business, and improve a longstanding storefront on Bristol’s main drag.
“It is not the same old store,” Eric Forand said. “We’re looking for people to come in and give us a shot. Give us that first chance again.”
Eric Forand grew up around cars, and learned a lot about repairing vehicles from his father, who recently retired from Lathrop’s Lumber Mill, where he worked as a truck driver for decades.
But Forand said his primary interest in Forand’s Auto Supply is in running a business, not necessarily working on cars, and he and his wife retained the three employees who were working in the store previously. He’s confident that the seasoned counter help will be able to answer customers’ questions.
Forand is excited about the changes the store is undergoing. He’s taking a “three-pronged” approach to the changes: reducing prices, increasing the store’s inventory, and starting to make commercial delivery to auto repair shops in the area.
He also said he plans to reinvigorate the store with a new coat of paint and new shelves.
“The store’s been around for 20 years, so it needs a face lift,” Eric Forand said.
His goal is to make the store more profitable and establish a reputation for good service. The changes are a way of competing with big competitors in Middlebury and Vergennes, he added, noting that many customers in the Five Towns area have started buying their auto parts elsewhere over the years. As the only store of its kind in the Five Towns, Eric Forand hopes Forand’s Auto Supply can draw those customers back to Bristol.
On a personal note, Forand said he’s happy to be working closer to home after commuting to Burlington for a job in financial services for three years.
His new job as a business-owner means he’s putting in longer hours, but he can take the time to run home for lunch or dinner, and he said he gets to spend more time with his wife and three children.
The Forands’ children — four-year-old Walker, two-year-old Genevieve, and four-month-old Mason — are equally excited about the new family business, according to Cathleen Forand.
“They ask if they can help close up the shop in the evenings,” she said. “They turn off the lights and lock the door.”
Reporter Kathryn Flagg is at [email protected].