A tale about THE DISCOUNT EXPERTS SHOP
I have been on both sides of the sales counter.
Due to that, I have seen the selling process from two viewpoints - The customer and as the salesperson.
My initial view of salespeople from the age of around seventeen was not a good one because of repeated incidents at a photographic store in Sussex.
I wont say which one as it has since closed and no benefit will come of me bad mouthing them all over the internet today.
The first incident was on a Saturday morning.
I had gone into town with my cash from my first months wages and I was determined to buy myself a 35mm SLR camera.
Of course, I didn't know which one, so I wanted to ask the salesman questions and make a decision from that.
It was busy in the shop, they sold a huge range of cameras, lenses and all manner of photo gear. Most of it discounted heavily.
The mass of bodies before me was about four deep. Mostly middle aged men who were all "experts" and a few guys who (like me) wanted to get some info and probably buy something.
It was a warm day and finally, after a very long a sweaty wait, I got to the counter.
There I stood.
And stood....and stood... and waited.
You get the idea.
Because I was a young looking seventeen, the salesmen (they were all men) looked right past me to any middle aged "expert" who probably had a lot more money than I did.
Even a few loud "Excuse me's" didn't get their attention.
So, feeling quite insignificant, I left and stumbled upon a small camera shop that restored my faith in humans and sales technique.
Within an hour or so I was the proud owner of a lovely used RICOH KR5 35mm SLR camera.
At £45 including a Nissin flash, I was really pleased with my purchase.
I bought it because the man who owned the shop ASKED ME QUESTIONS like "what did I want to photograph" "what sort of photos do I like" and "did I know the difference between some different models".
He didn't make any assumptions. He asked questions, listened and matched my answers to the right camera for me.
I used that camera and taught myself a lot about photography in the next two years.
Then one day, after deciding I needed to upgrade my KR5, I took it into town to do a part exchange in my great little photo shop.
"CLOSED DOWN" the sign in the window said.
I suppose the owner couldn't compete with the prices of the discount "experts" shop and called it a day.
At that time, I didn't drive so my choice of camera shop was limited to... yeah you guessed it, THE DISCOUNT EXPERTS SHOP.
Outside the shop I took a deep breath and went in.
Not as busy today because it was a Saturday afternoon and I got served quite quickly.
Here's an edited version of the conversation.
"Yes son" (Ok, so maybe not a great start).
" I want to trade in my KR5 for a better model"
"That'll be easy, everythings better than one of those." (chuckle chuckle)
I didn't find it funny, I knew how good the photos were that came out of that camera and now I began to loose faith in this guy quite quickly.
"Pentax" he said.
"Pentax what?" I said.
"ME Super" He said. "Great camera. Aperture priority. Sharp lens and its compact."
"Oh." I said.
I looked at the ME Super he had grabbed from the cabinet.
It seemed very well made compared to my RICOH and liked the feel of it too.
"How much is it?" I asked
At this point, I cannot actually remember how much it was! I think it may have been £65 or £75 but I know they only offered peanuts for my RICOH.
Anyway, I went for it. My Dad was with me that day.
It was also my birthday present so My Mum & Dad were paying towards it.
Dad asked "Are you sure that's the one you want? You didn't look at any others."
"Yeah, I like this one. That's the one I want thanks".
"Ok" said Dad and that was it. My KR5 that I had been inseparable from was gone and I was the owner of a ME Super with a 50mm SMC f2 lens.
Looking back, the salesman was rubbish. I had asked him questions. Some of which he answered (unconvincingly) and others he just shrugged at.
It was at this point I decided I wouldn't use this shop again.
I was wrong.
The following year I wanted to "up my game" and get into slides (sorry, transparencies or colour negative reversal film for the purists) (!)
This meant I just "had" to get myself a projector and screen.
Where would I buy this.... Um tough one I hear you cry.
Yep, THE DISCOUNT EXPERTS SHOP. (slaps palm of hand to forehead).
To cut a long story short, I got myself an AGFA Reflecta Diamator (with corded remote) and a big retractable screen.
Cost me a fortune but it was worth it.
Beautiful thing and the images it put on the screen were fantastic.
That was the last purchase from that shop. I had also bought some 2x converters, and a 135mm lens from them though.
The thing was, all the salesmen were just there to take the money, they knew nothing about the stock they sold and didn't need to learn it.
"Pile it high, sell it fast". was their philosophy.
Later on (much later).
I began working for a high street photographic retailer.
This was my chance to behave like some superhero salesperson and "give the customer what they wanted".
They would get the service that I never did.
They would go home smiling and telling the world they should "go to that shop because the guy knows what he's talking about".
In reality, it wasn't quite like that.
Truth was, half the time it was too busy to be informative and knowledgeable due to the store being very big and the location it was in.
Although, when it was quieter, I did my level best to do my job right and be as helpful as possible.
It paid off.
I made a LOT of sales and did well in my time there.
I'm not perfect, I'm not saying that but I get so annoyed when people don't try.
If you are selling cameras, know about cameras AND photography - it really helps.
That's what I still try to do these days with this website.
I try to be as informative and honest as I can be.
If someone sends a message with a question or two, I give as comprehensive and helpful an answer as I possibly can.
And that's what I'll always do.
Thanks for reading my blog. James.