On Thursday, Calumet Photographic closed all of their U.S. stores amid filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
I was particularly saddened to hear of yet another specialty photo store (read: non-mass retailer) leaving our industry. It is an incredibly competitive industry with small (and ever shrinking) margins, and the reality is that there are more cameras in the market place than there are consumers to purchase them.
In one of my previous posts "Why support a camera store that doesn't support you?", I discussed some of the benefits that smaller, local retailers have over the big box stores or internet powerhouses. Some customers are fiercely loyal to their local suppliers. Others are slaves to online ordering only. And a special group tries to have their cake and eat it too...visiting their local retail location to get help and learn about the products, yet having every intention of skirting sales tax by purchasing online (you know who you are).
Many of the manufacturers are beginning to implement pricing policies that help keep pricing the same in brick and mortar stores compared to mass market and internet stores. So, pricing being the same, why should you support your local camera store instead of just shopping online?
Quality Customer Service
Local camera shops are run by knowledgeable staff (as we are) that can help you make an informed decision on your purchase. Many are photographers themselves, so you stand a good chance of learning more about your gear, or photography in general, at the same time.
People that Care About You
Many independent retailers are focused on building relationships with their customer base. (And if they’re not, they absolutely should be.) Wouldn't you prefer to deal with someone who genuinely cares about your needs rather than just being another number on their computer screen?
Sales Tax Benefits You and Your Community
Sales tax revenue generated from your local retailer helps support the community in which you live. Roads, schools, police/fire services, etc. all rely on this revenue to fund their operations and maintenance.
In-Person Troubleshooting & Support with a Local Camera Store
If you have a problem, local retailers have your back. Rather than being on your own to deal with the manufacturer, you have a built-in support system to help you troubleshoot the problem, and if needed, send your gear in for repair.
These are just a few reasons why you should support your local camera shop. Without knowing more details, it's difficult to say with certainty if there were other factors that contributed to Calumet's demise. Yet, regardless of the true cause or combination of causes, it is sad to see customers and employees lose the resources that a local store offers. The local camera shop is becoming more and more difficult to find, but please consider this your invite to come check out pictureline, or your own local camera store. If you’re not in Salt Lake City, here are a few other local camera stores across the nation that we hope you support, just like you support us.
pictureline, Salt Lake City, UT
Glazer's Camera, Seattle, WA
Samy's Camera, Los Angeles, CA
Arlington Camera, Arlington, TX
Keeble & Shuchat, Palo Alto, CA
Tempe Camera, Tempe, AZ
Roberts Camera, Indianapolis, IN
Mike's Camera, Denver, CO