Jim Segal: Transitions: University Ave

Jim Segal runs Ax-man Surplus—a retail store specializing in "an eclectic mix of useful and un-useful merchandise at really low prices." He's concerned about surviving the construction phase


What is your name, and what business do you run on University Avenue?

My name is Jim Segal, and I run Axman Surplus store at 1639 University Avenue.

How long has Axman been here?

Roughly speaking, somewhere around 45 years in this location. You know we are an eclectic mix of useful and un-useful merchandise at really low prices. We try to cater to people that are trying to create something or build something or just use their creative mind to create uses for our products that might not necessarily be what they were intended to be used for.

What are your concerns about the light rail being built on University Avenue?

From a construction standpoint, our concern is being able to stay in business during construction. You run the risk of losing people because they don’t want to be inconvenienced by fighting through the traffic and having problems trying to find parking spaces and the delays and so forth.

How do you think the light rail will harm or benefit your business?

I think people will be fight a little harder if they have to make a trip to the Axman, but at some point they may give up too.

Do you anticipate losing a lot of customers during the construction period?

I do anticipate losing some customers during the construction period, and that’s the million dollar question. You know, how many of those customers we’re going to lose and how long are we going to lose them.

Do you think funds would help your business?

I think the only way to replace sales or gross profit to cover our expenses, would be to have access to some kind of fund. No matter how good we are at reducing our expenses, if our sales fall below our breakeven point, you know we are going to have to fund the business through some means.

Are there any final comments you would like to make about the light rail or construction of it?

I think the biggest thing is that a lot of people think that businesses are anti-light rail or anti transit, and I think that’s far from the truth. It is very difficult to study what the actual benefits of a project like this are. My biggest concern is just to keep our business in business.

Made possible by the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund through the vote of Minnesotans on November 4, 2008. Administered by the Minnesota Historical Society.