As most photographers know, specialty camera stores and businesses that cater specifically to them have been disappearing for many years. For me, this fact is particularly troubling because I am in my 25th year of ownership at Service Photo. We are now MD’s last true, full service independent camera dealer that works with all kinds of photographers, and provides most major brands of camera gear & accessories. And, I am here to tell you that being “the only game in town” is not what many imagine. Fact is, like most retailers, we thrive on competition – but unfortunately, most of our regional competition is gone. Businesses lost in our industry, like Penn Camera, Calumet, even the original Ritz Camera & many others, are not being replaced. Instead, most of the business simply moves to the already huge camera sellers who operate the majority of their business online and have a very different business model.
Many may think that specialty photo dealers are outdated & unnecessary in today’s marketplace. And while I do agree than online camera suppliers are useful, I am also confident that local suppliers bring something more to the table for working photographers & serious enthusiasts. You can research & shop online for hours on end, but it is simply not the same as checking out the items & comparing them to other items in-person. And, you should know that the prices of most specialty camera stores, including Service Photo, are most often identical to those found online. In fact, we are also able to offer special deals that are favorable to those offered online that we promote in-store, and via our private email list – which can be subscribed to easily, by visiting http://www.servicephoto.com.
Here are a few of the things that we do every day for photographers:
- Demonstrate, compare, & provide guidance on Digital Cameras, Lenses, & Accessories. Our advice alone, saves our customers serious $.
- Buy & Sell used gear of all types, & facilitate trade-ins that are convenient & competitive
- Provide rentals for many types of camera gear
- Facilitate repairs with factory authorized providers, handle all communication, and test all items prior to final delivery
- Plus, much more
I’m not a fan of buying local – just for the sake of buying local. To the contrary, I think that local independent businesses actually offer their customer s superior combination of products & personalized services that are a much better value than what can be found online. Sure, shopping online is fine. But in my personal life, I prefer to make purchases from those who will help me choose the best products, get me a competitive price, and support me throughout the life of those purchases. Professionally, I prefer to work with like-minded photographers – and my business is fortunate enough to have retained many long-term customers who also understand the value that we bring to them. We also meet new customers every day, and we work very hard to bring added value to each & every transaction.
So my request to all photographers is simple: When making your next camera item purchase, please search out the specialty suppliers in your region – whether it be Service Photo in Baltimore, or some place else. If you’ve already tried to do this in the past unsuccessfully, I ask that you please try again – I think that you’ll find regional photo dealers who are hungry for your business, and who will go out of their way to make photographers happy.
We look forward to serving photographers for a long, long, time.