Many years ago, I sold cameras. I worked in a catalog showroom, running the photo area for a while. I worked in a one-hour photo lab for a while and did time behind the counter at one of the major retailers in Washington, D.C.
Every one of those businesses is gone now.
The shops I frequented in Boston, places where I built relationships and spent tens of thousands of dollars … all gone.
Here in Athens I can’t look at anything beyond the most basic kit cameras in person, there’s no one that sells anything I’m interested in.
And now, Showcase Photo & Video, the last holdout in Atlanta, is gone, too. Phil Mistry has the story at PetaPixel – it’s a long read, but it’s worth it.
So what closed so many photo counters? There’s no one thing – the move to digital, manufacturers cutting margins, internet superstores and states not being able to figure out sales tax laws are all culpable.
I ran my photo business for years, I needed to get the best price I could. That’s what being in business is all about – lower costs mean higher profits. I never showroomed – I never walked into a brick and mortar shop, asked questions, played with the gear then went home and ordered online for a better price.
But I have ordered online and now, well, I have no more options.
It’s important for us as both photographers and journalists to understand this story.
(Thanks to Michael Schwarz for the link.)