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|| SportsShooter.com: News Item: Posted 2009-03-10

Travel Smart: The State of the Biz
By Doug Murdoch, Think Tank Photo

Photo by Ray Chavez / Oakland Tribune

Photo by Ray Chavez / Oakland Tribune

AP staffer and SportsShooter.com member Marcio Sanchez uses Think Tank Photo products while covering a protest in Oakland.
Many photographers know intimately about the photography world, but know less about the business of selling photographic gear.

Just as photojournalism is in a state of flux, so too is the photo industry. Ritz Camera, with over 1000 stores in the USA under various names, just filed for bankruptcy:
www.bizjournals.com/triangle/stories/2009/02/23/daily3.html

The current economy is also weeding out many Mom and Pop photography stores across the country.

Everyone enjoys buying photo products at the cheapest price, but what photographers don't know is how damaging this is to the industry. The typical scenario is that a photographer will go into a store, look at the product, ask a lot of questions, and then ask the retailer if they can match the price they saw online. In some cases, the online price is at the same cost that the retailer buys it for, so they cannot match the price unless they want to lose money.

The net end result of this discounting is that some retailers are laying people off, filing for bankruptcy, or closing their doors. The reason is simple: businesses need to make profit to survive. If the majority of the business goes to the lowest bidder, then the whole industry suffers.

Issues such as this are not normally on a photographer's radar. In talking to a lot of photographers it is apparent that they are completely oblivious to this industry problem.

There is only one way to reverse this disturbing trend:

SUPPORT PHOTO SPECIALTY RETAILERS AND THE BRANDS THAT SUPPORT THEM.

Please support the retailers that support Sports Shooter, which are Roberts, Samy's, and Adorama. These are the people and companies that care about the Sports Shooter community: Jeff Snyder at Adorama, Louis Feldman at Samy's and Jody Grober at Roberts.

If you have a Local Dealer, please support them as well by buying from them. In many cases the service and support that you receive is well worth the extra cost. There are many professional stores across the country that offers excellent customer service and product selection.

The truth is that each person has a choice on where to spend his or her money. And photographers need to know that that choice is having serious consequences for our industry.

At Think Tank, we are committed to photojournalists and professionals. One of our greatest rewards as a company is receiving photos of people using our products, such as the above photo of Marcio Sanchez. We are equally committed to the photo specialty industry.

Please support your industry and your livelihood by supporting the retailers, and please consider more than just the price tag.

Most of all, thank you to the Sports Shooter community that continues to support us. We will have some more product surprises this year!


(Doug Murdoch is the president and a designer at Think Tank Photo. You can also read his blog at http://www.dougmurdoch.com. His column "Travel Smart" discusses information and concerns for the traveling photographer.)

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