Meet Your Merchant: Patrick Cerceau – combating his way to the top
TAHOE CITY, Calif. – To sustain a livelihood in Tahoe, most people take on two, three, even four jobs in exchange for the unparalleled style of living. But born and bred local Patrick Cerceau has always piled his plate high with obligations – he’s not a man of many jobs, he’s a man with multiple businesses. As owner of the Tahoe City Martial Arts Academy and neighboring New & Used Tahoe Sports, this easy-going guy is teeming with tenacity for success. “Right now, I’m working about a 75-hour work-week,” Cerceau said while letting his trusty puppy out to wander the Cobblestone shopping center in downtown Tahoe City. “I thrive when I’m busy and I feel kind of lost when I have nothing to do.”As a former combat engineer in the U.S. Army, Cerceau is no stranger to a strenuous work environment and an unwavering perseverance. Growing up in Tahoe City, Cerceau transferred to Truckee High School in order to graduate early due to the block scheduling offered there. Early freedom from high school allowed Cerceau the opportunity to travel to Europe before signing up for the services in 2003. “I joined the army so I could go to Iraq and serve my country, have an adventure, do something different – all of it really,” Cerceau said. The alpine skier and mountain dweller soon found himself in the hot, desert landscape of Iraq, where he spent 14 months searching for and dismantling roadside bombs that are used by Iraqi insurgents to target U.S. military in guerrilla-style warfare.”We were told every bomb that goes off kills at least one person and injures two others,” said Cerceau, with an unprecedented seriousness in his voice. “Our unit found about 300 roadside bombs in the year we were there, so that’s 300 lives we saved and 600 people who were not injured.”In total, Cerceau spent four years of active duty with the Army and four years of inactive duty where he could be deployed if necessary to Iraq – a reality he embraced in spite of the 34 roadside bombs that he encountered while serving his tour there.”The hardest part about being in Iraq was losing my friends – I had some really great friends who died over there,” Cerceau said. “There were a lot of good memories though, some really funny times, funny things that happened along the way …”Cerceau trails off for a moment, chuckling under his breath with a distant look in his kindred eyes. “There’s a very strong camaraderie and I still talk with the majority of people I was there with; I probably always will,” Cerceau said. When the eight-year commitment ended with the Army, Cerceau spent a short stint in Utah as a ski lift operator before returning to his home-base – Tahoe City.”Every time I leave and come back, I realize this place is always the same – the people may change, and maybe I change, but for the most part, it’s the same environment, same atmosphere,” Cerceau said of his hometown.After spending another winter as a chairlift operator at Alpine Meadows, Cerceau decided to put his third-degree black belt ranking to good use by purchasing the martial arts studio in 2010.”We teach a very traditional martial arts style so we don’t focus on sports and competition, we focus on health, self-defense, and self enhancement,” Cerceau said. “It’s kicking and punching things, mixed with the artistic side of it, and I’m constantly learning new things and I like that.”Cerceau is so confident in the workout he even offers new clients a free trial week before they make any commitment so they can see what traditional martial arts is all about.”Our classes are all ranks and all abilities put together, so you may be a beginner in a class, but you’re not going to be the only one,” Cerceau said. With the confidence he has gained through martial arts combined with the courage he acquired while serving his country, Cerceau moved forward with another business venture in July 2011: an outdoor retail consignment store adjacent to the martial arts studio. Cerceau had experience working at Tahoe City’s former consignment store, 9 Lives, before the owner decided to sell the rights to the business. When the opportunity presented itself, Cerceau jumped on it. About 70 percent of merchandise is brought in by consignors who negotiate a price and wait to rake in the rewards of their gently used products. The other 30 percent is provided by big name representatives in the outdoor retail industry. As a young businessman in Tahoe City, Cerceau said he is excited to see other like-minded business owners work together to revive the sidewalk shops of the quiet town. He’s also eager to give back to the community that raised him. This winter, New & Used Tahoe Sports will be donating goods to the Aloha Tuesdays event at Jake’s on the Lake in Tahoe City. Proceeds from raffle tickets go toward the Disabled Sports USA program, and every week, a different business provides some stellar prizes.”Patrick was great enough to step in and donate for two week’s worth of prizes, which is unprecedented – not many businesses will do that,” said Jake’s Manager and Aloha Tuesday coordinator Rylan Cordova. “We are so thankful for his generosity because it helps us sell more raffle tickets, therefore making more money for the adaptive sports program.” With a young, new pup and two thriving businesses located in the heart of Tahoe City, this young businessman has his sights set high and eventually plans to spread his wings beyond the Tahoe Basin. “I would love to open another consignment store in a different location – it’s my exit strategy,” Cerceau said. “The ideal location would be somewhere where there’s good people, good food, mountains, water and somewhere similar to Tahoe.”
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