Busman’s Holiday


One would reasonably assume that after a year of standing behind a shop counter selling cameras, that I would seek to avoid shop counters selling cameras during my holiday time. I might go to the beach or the mountains or the public sewage farm and recreate myself – but not in the shops.

Not so. Every time I come to Melbourne I visit the section of Elizabeth Street that features the most camera stores, and I spy on our competition. I do not wear a trench coat and a fedora…well, I do wear a fedora, but that is just me. And if Iwas visiting in winter I would wear a trench coat. As it is, this summer and it is a tee shirt and jeans.

At least I do not skulk. I stride around manfully looking at all the displays and seeing if they do it better than we do. Sometimes I discover items that we do not stock, but this rare – the wholesales people offer the same items to al the shops in Australia. But we do not bite on all the bait, so there are sometimes things to be had. This trip yielded some classic album glue for paper prints that will help me make use of a number of photos, as well a a unique hand strap for the camera I use. I don’t feel bad being a spy as I have also been a genuine customer.

It is instructive to see some shops far ahead in their display from what we achieve at work – you can put this down to dedicated retail space design and the decision to spend money on efficient fittings. You can also see some shops that are repeating the displays of the past and making the goods unattractive…and this on very expensive equipment. If the punters buy from them, it is in spite of the display, rather than because of it. Loathe though I am to admit it, we do several things right and they don’t…and it is only the distance between us and the Victorian market that prevents us from having this trade off them.

The other thing that is interesting to observe is the POS computer interface – both for our sort of trade and others as well. I noted one shop just starting to use the one that we abandoned two years ago. So far I have not see another shop using the exact same system as us, but when I do I will experiment with the sort of exercises that the customers put us through to see if the other shop’s employees have as much grief as we do. Sounds mean, but I’ll pay for it with purchases.

Finally, today I get to go to the hot rod show. It is the main ostensible reson for this visit…though there are so many other components of fun in 6 days that I really should not be picky. The only thing I buy is toy cars and a sausage in a bun, but I take zillions of pictures for my other blog. Go therein the next few months and see what happened:  hrhoa.wordpress.com




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