Interesting insight into the fall of Brick & Mortar camera stores

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by Palouse, Mar 2, 2017.

  1. 480sparky


    May 27, 2013
    Some day, all the b&m stores will be gone, and all the low-price-shoppers will lament about having no customer service. They got what they asked for.
  2. Yeah, I guess some of us are the last of the dinosaurs, eh Ken?
  3. 480sparky


    May 27, 2013
    Eh? What you'd say, sonny?

    Now get off my lawn!!!!! phiphi.
  4. That is sad, but it's hard to blame the customers (like me). Actually, I have never had much choice in buying cameras because of where I live. There is a big audio-video retailer in Roanoke (40 miles from me) that does carry Nikon products with a pretty good stock, but it's a half-day or more errand to go there so I don't.

    The sales tax issue is the biggie, however. That will have to be ironed out somehow.
  5. I've been in the same boat as you for all my camera-toting life! Our closest, and probably only one in the region is 90 miles away in Spokane. They also have an on-line presence and on many items match B&H with no tax and free shipping for the current and popular items. But for things like papers, inks, filters, batteries, tripods, etc. Promaster is what they carry. I used them a lot in my film days, but now they are heavily vested in the audio business.
  6. Here in London a lot of restaurants and small independent shops are closing as the Business Rates are going up drastically this year as well leases/rents.
  7. 480sparky


    May 27, 2013
    It's already ironed out. Most states already require out-of-state purchases to be self-reported and remit sales tax. In other words, if you order something from out of state and have it shipped to you without sales tax collected, you're required to remit the tax yourself.

    So the claim of 'no sales tax' is a non-issue.
  8. But "self-reported" is the rub. How many people actually do this? My wife files our tax returns every year, and she makes an honest effort to estimate our non-taxed online purchases, but how many others do this?

    There is no way to enforce the current system so most of the tax will not be collected. There has to be a system to collect it at the point of sale.
  9. 480sparky


    May 27, 2013
    This isn't an IRS / income issue. It's a state sales-tax revenue issue. When you order something from out-of-state and you are not charged sales tax, you are required to remit the sales tax to your state.

    It's not something most people know about. But times are changing, and many states are rewriting their tax codes to require online sales to remit sales taxes to the states they send packages to. Slowly but surely, this will become the norm.
  10. I agree, and that is what I was discussing. But in our state there is no way to enforce that, as online sales from out-of-state marketers are not reported.
  11. Ken –The issue of lost sales taxes through internet commerce is far from being solved. States can “require” that individuals remit sales taxes from internet purchases but in the absence of a reporting and/or enforcement mechanism, they have no way of collecting the taxes or even knowing that they are owed. In 1992 the Supreme Court ruled that retailers, including catalog and online sellers, only need to collect sales taxes for states where they have a physical presence. The Marketplace Fairness Act was designed to resolve this issue but it has been stalled in Congress for several years now.

    With this in mind, the brick and mortar stores are definitely at a disadvantage because they are required to collect state sales taxes at the point of purchase. Consumers can’t avoid paying the sales tax in a brick and mortar store but they certainly can by making an internet purchase. Looking at state sales tax rates, some don’t have them and some, e.g., Tennessee, are as high as 7% and that’s not counting local rates that drive the sales tax higher. For bigger ticket items the sales tax can get pretty pricey.

    As the article points out, collecting state sales taxes isn’t the only factor affecting the viability of brick and mortar camera stores, but it clearly put them at a disadvantage with their internet competitors.
  12. I didn't use B&H until my regional B&M stores went belly up. Bought D70, SB-800, D300, 200/2VR,etc. and spent a lot of $$. Now once a year I drive up to Service Photo in Baltimore and buy something on principle (used 14-24/2.8, new PocketWizard stuff, etc.) Personally I think digital killed the B&Ms as much as the Internet did. No reason to have local foot traffic when you didn't need film developed.
  13. It's also really tedious to have to sum up all your out of state purchases for an entire year and calculate the sales tax you weren't charged! I resent that burden being shifted to the consumer.

    Thankfully, California has a provision where you can elect to pay a small percentage of your taxable income as "sales tax" for out of state purchases. That usually works in my favor so I gladly pay that portion. But I know many folks who don't even pay that...

    The thing is, if you don't get audited by your state there's no risk, right? And states probably won't come after you for what is usually a pretty small amount.


  14. That is what I was told by a former B&M store owner. Shortly before she closed her store, a few years ago, she told me that digital was what ruined her business. Though it wasn't the lack of film developing, as those coming in for developing services were not the pros who would buy expensive equipment. After digital became more popular, the issue was more one of the lack of film sales. The pros were no longer coming in to buy film. They would be the customers who would often make impulse buys, when they only intended to pick up some film. Those impulse buys (a bag, a tripod, lighting equipment, sometimes even a lens) would often be a several hundred dollar item. Without the pros impulse purchases, her profit margin was gone.
  15. rick_reno


    Dec 3, 2012
    N Idaho
    I've been in both the stores mentioned in that article, once in Showcase and many, many times in Keeble & Shuchat in Palo Alto, I lived a few blocks from them for almost 20 years when I was at Stanford. They were both very nice stores. I've shopped at the store Nick mentions in Spokane, it's about 55 miles from me. Every time I've gone in with the intent to buy something it's not in stock. I can understand not keeping pricey items in stock given they might sell one a year. I don't believe this is limited to camera stores, brick and mortar stores are in trouble in many sectors. Where I live, I have no shopping unless Walmart counts - and I won't shop there. It's just too easy to click shop from the house. Portland, OR still has a good brick and mortar store - and I hope they stick around.
  16. barry lloyd

    barry lloyd

    Jun 12, 2007
    We also had Jacobs camera store in birmingham UK close for the same reason . Jessops also closed but has reopened under new ownership with less stores nationwide. We have a load of shops closing which sell different items and the intenet has killed them or the rates they have to pay have increased too much forcing closure. Even in my village several have closed and the premises taken over by estate agents or betting shops
  17. Kingfisher


    Dec 26, 2010
    Old argument, the B&M stores fail(ed) to get the concept of adapt or die. As for customer service, that has always been as scarce as a unicorn. Can't really miss what doesn't exist. I try to support B&Ms but they make it difficult by not having what I want or refuse to get it in a timely manor.
  18. JusPlainCrayzee

    JusPlainCrayzee Administrator Administrator

    The B&M's here in St. Louis are awful. I also tried to support them, but between the customer service and the lack of knowledge regarding the items carried as well as the higher prices over what can be purchased online, I've gone elsewhere.
  19. I live close to K&S and visited them occasionally over the years. Unfortunately they priced accessories very high - articles like a Nikon Right-Angle finder or cheap Op/Tech strap/pouch could be as high as 33% more then B&H, plus 9+% sales tax. Sales people could be knowledgeable, but usually weren't much help. I always felt they preferred dentists who bought full sets of Leicas. They also only took Visa or MC, not American Express (my preference).

    I'm sorry to see them go, but really won't miss them.
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