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FORUMS Photography Talk by Genre General Photography Talk 
Thread started 31 Oct 2014 (Friday) 02:06
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Is it any wonder shops are closing down...

Mick ­ F
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Oct 31, 2014 18:42 |  #16

taemo wrote in post #17244347 (external link)
online B&H that is because the times I've been to the physical store, the service has been sub-par, not very helpful nor friendly at all.

The first time I went to B&H (maybe 15 years ago) I was blown away by the knowledge and friendliness of the 'guy' as well as the whole photographer's Willy Wonka thing going on there with the overhead rails etc.

The last time I was in the store (2007) the 'guy' spent most of his (my) time telling me how tired he was because he'd been on a commercial video shoot all night.

I then paid my first trip to Adorama and found a really good 'guy' who actually tried to down sell me by telling me what I actually needed, rather than what I thought I needed. He reminded me of what B&H used to be - 'guys' who are subject matter experts rather than salesmen. 'Guys' who actually try to get us both to a win-win situation.

Now when I travel to NYC, which for me is a 7 hour flight, I go to Adorama. It's not as flashy but, for me, it's preferable.

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Nov 01, 2014 19:31 |  #17

I think retail stores need to reinvent themselves in order to survive. If they try to be low budget stores, they will go out of business simply because there are a million online stores that are cheaper because they have no big store to pay for.

If I go to a retail store,that might be for a few different reasons. I might be looking to take the product home right away, I might want to have the security that if I need to use my warranty, I can go to a physical store, I might want to have some expert information on the specifications, or I might want to handle the product before buying it.

None of these things I can get from an online store, and in my eyes is what keeps retail stores afloat. It would then be a problem for retail stores to provide bad service (as there are so many competitors) or have no knowledge about the stuff they are selling. They seem to be cutting out their added value to the customer, leading to bankrupcy.

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Nov 01, 2014 20:46 |  #18

The real problem for the bricks and mortar specialist shops is that too many people will go to them for the presales service, then buy cheap online anyway. I help run the website for a local specialist retailer. He's not only had to provide presales for people who have then gone and bought online cheaply, but has even had them come back for after sales advice! This has even included people coming into the shop demanding that he return items to the manufacturer for them under warranty, because he is a "dealer", even though he as sold them nothing. This has become a much bigger problem for him, as regulations around the products that he sells now means that you cannot post the item as they are prohibited by the PO and couriers unless you have a trade account. The worse thing is he has had suppliers suggest that he do this for them to help their customer service image, although he has made no money selling the product, and it will take him time and money to package the goods up, even if he isn't actually having to pay for the shipping costs.


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Nov 01, 2014 21:45 |  #19

Acetoolguy wrote in post #17243360 (external link)
Consumers told retailers a long time ago they care more about price than service.

BigAl007 wrote in post #17246558 (external link)
The real problem for the bricks and mortar specialist shops is that too many people will go to them for the presales service, then buy cheap online anyway.

These two things are the root of all that is wrong with retail. People want good CS but they want it for cheap. Hiring people who care and know what the hell they are doing/talking about costs money. Money that the consumer doesn't want to pay.

Then I hate people who walk into a speciality shop to get good sound advice when they already know they are just going to buy something online because they can save a few bucks. If that's the case just stop being lazy and do your own research!!!

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Nov 01, 2014 22:01 |  #20

Overread wrote in post #17244588 (external link)
On the other side of the coin;

1) A lot of retail stores are now giving only part time ours and often random hours/days each week to employees - its not a stable form of income nor designed to be a long term job like that.

2) Many shops recycle low level staff a lot.

3) as a result of 1 and 2 many shops also hire in student staff during select periods of the year/term.
Of course poor staff means less potential sales - sadly a I think a lot of shops rely upon people walking in and knowing what they want; or shoppers of a level where just re-reading the back of the packet is enough for them (they mostly want to talk about and be convinced to purchase rather than have a real in-depth discussion).

All very good points. I currently work full time retail for a big-box home improvement store. As a full-timer, we are not allowed to request set schedules and therefore can be scheduled any time the store is open (16 hours a day), any day of the week. Pay is lower than it was in the late 1990's and turnover is high. Furthermore, one employee may be asked to cover multiple departments, sometimes simultaneously. I know most of the departments fairly well, but ask me a question about plumbing or electrical codes and you will likely receive the OP's dreaded "blank stare."

I suspect the same situation is often present at big-box retailers that sell camera equipment, like Best Buy, Target, Wal-Mart, etc. Management is likely too cheap to pay a "photo sales specialist" and schedules one guy to cover TV's, video games, cameras, etc. If that one guy is any good at his job, he's probably searching for a different career that pays more than $10 an hour and offers a set schedule.

Dedicated camera shops are a different story. I've been to some that rival Sam's Club for service :rolleyes: and others that far exceeded my expectations for good customer service. As others have stated, there are advantages to brick-and-mortar camera stores. Renting lenses or cameras is generally cheaper than online, since one does not have to pay for shipping. It's also nice to be able to pick up a necessary piece of equipment or accessory right before a photo gig instead of waiting 2+ days for shipping.

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Nov 01, 2014 23:24 |  #21

I live on long Island where there Berger Brothers provides great service and has, as well, a photography school. They have multiple sales people who know the cameras: specialists in Canon, Nikon and more.
So many of the prices are set by the manufacturers - look at NYC stores Adorama and B & H and what they do is provide throw-in products to give you something extra but the price of the camera is dictated typically by canon and nikon - and the actual profit margins on the camera sale are slim. SO the local store depends on repeat business drawn from loyal customers. I have found their advice about products and photographic technique important, but yes, if you have knowledge, you can purchase on-line. The warning, however, is that much is lost, including ultimately the small stores that make neighborhoods live, that keeps communities thriving, where the people in the store get to know the people who frequent the store. Much more, then, is lost when we lose our neighborhood retailers. That is what i think about when i purchase cameras or other commodities: i think about the item and so much more. When i use my camera, i do the same kind of thinking.

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Nov 02, 2014 06:18 |  #22

I try to use my local camera stores as much as I can. I don't mind paying a little more for service. However, let's say the typical cost is 1000 for some items. I can usually wait for a sale/find a coupon/use greentoe or street pricing etc and get that price down to 850 for example. Then online there is no tax. At the local shop that is going to cost me a little more than 1000 a lot of the time...let's say 1075 and then around 9% tax so about 1172. So for every 1000 of retail cost I'm saving around 325 by going online.

That's a lot of money. Makes it tough to use local. I still try though especially for used stuff and it's fun to rent stuff as well.

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Nov 02, 2014 07:59 |  #23

We have a decent local photography store and unless it is something specific to Canon, I can usually find what I want there. While they carry Canon gear, their focus is on Nikon and Sony. They have solid well trained subject sales folks on photography, Nikon and Sony gear. Their pricing is fair, and I'll eat the 9% sales tax if they have what I need. But their minimalistic stocking of Canon gear, and no Sigma or Fuji products, makes them less than a full service store for me as a Canon-Fuji user.

They're 11 miles from my place, through some of the worst traffic in the area, and forget going there during the Christmas holiday shopping season. When I compare that to the convenience of shopping on-line, with access to all the product lines, it gets harder and harder to support the local brick and mortar photography store.


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Nov 02, 2014 08:53 |  #24

jt354 wrote in post #17246702 (external link)
..... I currently work full time retail for a big-box home improvement store. As a full-timer, we are not allowed to request set schedules and therefore can be scheduled any time the store is open (16 hours a day), any day of the week. Pay is lower than it was in the late 1990's and turnover is high......

I see this as being symptomatic of how business in this country has evolved. It's now all about making the most amount of profit in the shortest time, while ignoring the things that matter for the long term (customer service, employees, etc.). Companies force employees to work crazy hours for little more than minimum wage, yet give CEOs multi-million dollar salaries while jobs are shipped to China.

I have a certain sadness for the direction that most camera stores are going. Years ago I'd go into a local camera store and spend time with the owner who gladly shared his knowledge with me.

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Nov 02, 2014 08:55 |  #25

Acetoolguy wrote in post #17243360 (external link)
Consumers told retailers a long time ago they care more about price than service.

This is true, but unlike most hand-wringing on the topic I'm not sure this is a bad thing.

I remember how things were. You wanted something, you bought it from a local retailer and you paid a significant markup that went to the store's overhead. If you were lucky, you got a knowledgeable salesperson who didn't bring too much bias to the table.

Now you order everything from an online mega-retailer and the margins are razor thin. Overall prices are lower, but there is nobody to talk to and learn from.

Except there is.....the internet. I feel like I can become a much more informed consumer on any purchase with just 20-30 minutes of research from the comfort of my own home. I can see all available products and collect multiple opinions from different experts or users. And then I get to buy the product from that same comfy seat while saving hundreds of dollars in markup compared to a local store.

People prefer buying cheaper products online because it's cheaper, and also because they can get better information on line than they could from a salesperson.

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Nov 02, 2014 09:15 |  #26

Luxx wrote in post #17247173 (external link)
Then online there is no tax.

This won't last forever. The states are waking up to the loss of revenue in their treasuries.

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Nov 02, 2014 10:09 as a reply to  @ OhLook's post |  #27

My favorite local camera shop must be one of the few "old school" stores then.
Its family run, they know what they are talking about (and if they dont, will either ask someone there who does know, or google, or ring the brand rep) and are always friendly.
They also typically have stuff in stock, even expensive stuff like 1DX and Leicas (when they arent backordered around the world)

The 4 main staff working out the front know me, my wife and my 18 month old daughter by name - and if you walk in, even if they are busy will turn to you, say "hello" and "i will be with you shortly" as they serve other customers.

Theres a reason most of my gear has come from that one shop - good customer service and good prices (not as cheap as online, but not the standard australian price gouging either)
There is only 3 other companies who i have experienced similar CS from, Thinktank Photo, Peak Beam Systems and Kifaru

I do ocassionally walk into their competitors shop, 5 mins walk away, for a look around
The last two times i have been there, the staff havent even acknowledged my exsistence - and when the staff do talk to you, they are pretty rude - which is why i havent spent more than about $500 there over the past 10 yrs

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Nov 02, 2014 10:40 |  #28

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? The chicken creates the egg, the egg grows into the chicken.

Photo stores with knowledgeable staff used to be more prevalent, when folks were 'career photo sales', just as being a waiter used to be career (particularly in the 'Old World'). Certain stores catered to photographic professionals, and had very knowledgable staffs.
Then folks started to buy on price, ordering via mail order/the web. Business volume at the 'professional stores' plummeted, causing stores to close or staff to leave as their business volume no longer supported a commissioned sales team! More and more photo business also disappeared to the large volume 'electronics stores', staffed with generic sales guys who knew little about high end audio equipment and even less about high end photographic needs.
Now we have a bunch of unknowledgable part timers or 'cash register attendants' staffing our stores, leading to buyer frustration at their lack of knowledge, as indicated in the opening of the thread! Big box membership stores don't help the situation.

Similarly, our knowledgeable neighborhood hardware store is disappearing too, as folks go the Home Depot or Lowes, and encounter a lot of help who can tell you about which aisle to find stuff, but little about the technical details of topics like plumbing or electrical basics, or about tool selection.

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Nov 02, 2014 10:44 |  #29

Mark0159 wrote in post #17243238 (external link)
you that can be said for plenty of shops. they employ people who know nothing about what they are trying to sell.

the key to finding a good camera store is finding one with the knowledge about photography not just cameras.

The key to finding a good camera store is to move to another state.
Seriously, there are none left in my little state of RI.
That said I am blessed with one of the best repair shops left in the country just blocks away, so I'm not complaining too much.

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Nov 02, 2014 12:06 |  #30

i say this only because its true,i think alot of the brick and mortar shops are closing because of the internet,all though most of us won't admit it we just complain about it !even the post office is finding vary hard to keep up with internet,so all we can do is remember the way it was in mom and pops day,its kinda of sad.

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Is it any wonder shops are closing down...
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