Carter Bouslaugh is owner and operator of the Camera Cottage in Shepherd.
He’s also the company’s janitor, security guard and chief executive officer. That’s how it is when you’re a one-man shop.
Bouslaugh has been a professional photographer since 1988, specializing in wildlife and nature photography. It wasn’t that long ago, he recalls, that Billings had three photo stores and a used camera shop. Those businesses all disappeared fairly quickly with the shift to digital photography.
So, Bouslaugh opened his own shop near his home in Shepherd. Camera Cottage, at 5512 Carey Ave., is open Tuesday through Saturday from noon to 6 p.m. The store may be reached at 671-6640.
Along with new cameras and equipment for sale, the business also rents equipment and sells used digital and film cameras. Bouslaugh also scans old negatives, slides, prints and digital files and has a printing service.
Most of all, he wants shoppers to know that Shepherd isn’t that far away from Billings, about 10 minutes from the Heights.
Here’s what else Bouslaugh had to day about starting his own business:
^pWhy start this business?^p
No competition and a reasonably high demand for the service.
^pWhere did start-up funding come from?^p
Out of pocket.
^pHow long have you been in business?^p
^pYour biggest challenge?^p
Convincing people in Billings that Shepherd is not that far out.
^pWhat was done to overcome those challenges?^p
Open Saturdays and later in the evenings and offering on-call meetings at the store.
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^pWhat is being done to expand the business?^p
Negotiating with Nikon and Canon to acquire a full line new camera dealership.
^pYour best business decisions?^p
Not to take out a loan to finance the business start-up.
^pYour worst business mistake?^p
The potential is still there.
^pWhat advice do you have for someone running a business?^p
Don’t think it will run itself, be prepared to bend over backward to make your customers happy. Service is king.
^pNumber of workers?^p
^pWhat’s your five-year plan for the business?^p
Develop the business into a full-line sales and service establishment.
^pA question you would ask other entrepreneurs?^p
How do you afford effective advertising in such a small market?
^pIf you weren’t doing what you are now, what would be your dream job?^p
^pWildlife photographer. Oh wait, I am that, too.