Everything is always on sale?!

I started working in a camera store in 1970. The Photo Shop was located in San Rafael and there were 2 other camera sellers also in San Rafael. There were a total of 6 independently owned shops in Marin and around 100 in the Bay Area at that time. Now there is only 1 left in Marin and fewer than 10 in the entire Bay Area. Even the massive chains like Ritz, Wolf, McCurry, and Brooks are gone.

Why has this happened? And what does it mean? Well, it’s all about profit. The profit in cameras is gone, and a business can’t survive without profits.

In the 70’s when we bought a camera to sell at wholesale we used to double our costs (keystone) as a selling price. That was competitive since that’s what everyone did.

In 1982 when I phased out selling cameras and started selling everything else related to photography, (photofinishing, frames, books, tripods, bags, filters, film, classes, and albums), it was because the profit from selling cameras had dropped to 2%. Ouch. Discounters in New York and San Jose had unleashed the price cutting monster. So in my store, Film Company, later to become a Wolf Camera, we morphed into an imaging center.

When everyone sold cameras at a profit we also provided service. We showed our customers how to use their cameras and enjoy them. Now when you buy a camera they just show you where to pay for them.

Even when the few remaining camera shops have their “Big One Day Sale!” “The Year’s Lowest Prices” and “Up to 60% Off!!” Amazon will offer the exact product at or below the stores special sale price. On top of it, Amazon has these low prices all day, every day, along with free shipping, and sometimes even without sales tax.

The problem resulting from the loss of physical camera stores is very few people know how to really use their cameras. The service you used to get at the store is gone. I ask people I see with cameras, “How do you like your Live View?” “How do you like your Exposure Compensation control?” and very few, very few indeed, know what I’m talking about.

If you don’t know either, then we should talk. Give me a ring, and I’ll walk you through what you need to know, or help you answer any questions you have!