For photgraphers: The Neighborhood Camera Store.

Let me ask you a hypothetical question.

Would you buy a local camera store?

If not, why? (Please be specific)

I assume you would cite the onslaught of the internet, (KEH, B&H, Adorama, Amazon and ebay) as well as bog box stores like WalMart and Best Buy. I’ve watched KEH’s prices for a long time and I’ve watched their prices come down substantially over the last 2-3 years. I [anecdotally] attribute this to ebay mostly, and to the transition to digital.

Across the country, mom & pop camera stores are closing. They have been unable to adapt to this changing world. Should their outcome be any different than the moms & pops whose hardware stores and grocery stores were steam rolled by Home Depot and WalMart?

I’ve had people at 2 different stores tell me that it is [semi] common for people to come and ask lots of questions and handle the cameras, only to leave and buy on the net. They simply cannot compete with the selection and prices on the net, and the customer base that remains loyal, or doesn’t use the net, isn’t large enough for them to survive.

Is there a hope for them?

If you would buy an existing store…Why? What would you differently to ensure your survival and success? (As before, be specific)

While the OP is looking for factual answers, he/she’s mainly looking for informed opinions. So, let’s move this to IMHO.

samclem GQ moderator

Most of them are gone from my prior haunts, and Philly had a helluva number of camera stores. A few still survive, selling new, used, and digital equipment. Were I to consider purchase of an existing store, it would need darkroom facilities on site so I could teach basic photography and processing skills to the few who still wish to learn them.

Digital is fun and simple, yet there’s something viscerally satisfying about loading film onto a reel, sloshing it about, and later watching a white piece of paper in a tray as the image appears before your squinting eyes. :Tri-X smiley:

I would not buy one - Besides all the reasons you cite, I would point to places like Wal-Mart.

There is nothing I could provide to the average person that online or discount stores could not provide more cheaply. Yes, professionals might well still come in, but they cannot support a business entirely.

Most of the successful camera stores I know are surviving by their online business.

You’d have to be out of your mind to open a local photo store. You can’t possibly compete on volume with the big discounters. The only exceptions I can think of would be if it were in a major metropolitan area or near a major university with a thriving Fine Arts program. You might possibly eke out a living doing repair work, rentals, and selling used equipent.

But generally, cameras are commodity items and people have been buying them through discounters for many, many years. As long as I can remember, the local camera stores have been pretty marginal places. The internet just made it easier for people to compare prices.

Now that digital has largely replaced film, there’s not much need for the store that sells paper, film and developer. You can pretty much go to Staples for everything except the high end textured papers.

But if I were interested in making a go of a photo store, I’d combine it with a modeling studio and teach various kinds of advanced photography – modeling, portrait photography, figure photography, advanced printing and Photoshop techniques and so on.