Houma Auto Parts
by Veronica Cisneros
Houma Auto Parts Inc., established in 1933, was the first auto supply service in Houma. Over the years it has evolved to exclusively selling guns, knives and gun-related accessories, offering a variety of guns and expertise that owner Calvin Prevost says is not offered anywhere else.
Prevost started working with the company when he was 19 years old and said, “I worked my way up the ladder.” He was initially hired as a stock and counter clerk, but eventually bought out the other partners in the business by the end of the late 1980s.
Still selling auto parts exclusively for a number of years while under his ownership, Prevost had to make a decision when the “big box” auto supply stores moved into town. His local, independent, family-owned operation could not compete. “We were dying on the vine,” Prevost said. “We were looking to really close the store, but decided we had to go into something else we could be competitive in and make money doing.”
The only other thing Prevost said he knew of that he could do himself without relying on someone else’s expertise was guns. As a gun collector of approximately 30 years, he couldn’t think of anything else he would rather sell.
“I did what I had to do for the first part of my life,” Prevost said. “Not many people can do like I did. In the twilight of my years I got to do what I’ve always wanted to do and that’s own a gun store. Guns are my love besides my family and wife.”
At the time when the auto supply store was struggling to survive, guns became a “sideline” for the auto parts store, but Prevost explained, “The gun business got so good, we just let the auto parts slide,” and Houma Auto Parts became “100 percent guns.”
One may wonder why Prevost has decided to keep its name even though the store has nothing to do with auto parts anymore. He explains, “The name was established in 1933 and I don’t see any need to change it. One time we actually sold auto parts and because of the cost to change corporate names, billing and whatnot, we just retained our name.”
Houma Auto Parts offers services such as special ordering guns, handling Internet sales, installing scopes, mounts and other services that big box stores do not offer, according to Prevost. Houma Auto Parts is often the place where large stores refer their customers when they have exceeded their capacity to help the customer.
This local gun store handles the federal paperwork when a customer orders a gun online since the customer cannot do so. Also, since the gun cannot be shipped directly to the customer, Houma Auto Parts is able to order guns online and handle shipment as well, Prevost said.
Houma Auto Parts is highly specialized, carrying all sorts of legal weapons, collector’s items, supplies, scopes, ammunition, cleaning accessories and more. They have sold over 25,000 guns and sell on average 3,000 guns a year. In addition to the variety of firearms, Houma Auto Parts offers numerous lines of quality commercial knives, such as Colombia River Knife and Tool, Benchmade, Boker and Smith and Wesson.
“We do well with what we do because this is one of the few places that offers the variety of guns and expertise that we do,” Prevost said. “We are, I guess, like the old dinosaur. We have found a way to survive, exist and prosper.”
The family-owned operation employs one part-time employee, Prevost’s wife, daughter and thirty-year employee, John Hebert. “You don’t find that anymore,” Prevost said of Hebert and his dedication to the company.