Yesterday’s Oyster

DSCF5191The photographic trade is a lot like the motor car trade – so much so that it is entirely different.

The car trade runs on agencies – businesses that feature one particular brand of vehicle and build their entire sales, service, inventory, warranty structure, and throughput of used vehicles upon that brand. Or at least it used to be – there are some agencies that seem to feature 5 different brands of cars or truck in 5 different divisions, but this is not as common.

Camera stores stock everything, or as it is known in technical terms; “Bleeding Anything”. They draw from as many wholesalers as will provide a rep and a discount and manage to compartmentalise and regulate the sales by the simple means of forgetting what they said yesterday and then saying it again tomorrow. I know, because I write the advertising copy, and pretty horrible stuff some of it is, too…

The need to spread the buying power wide is an awful pressure upon the finances in the photo game. It may be so for the car people but at least they can sometimes accurately predict how many Bulgemobiles will be sold between one month and the next and plan the cash flow accordingly. The camera shop has a bills coming in from everybody each month and they are all top priority, as attested by the wholesaler’s management…

The car sellers have the problem that everyone has been gotten into the expectation of a new product each calendar year – and even the meanest intellect can tell the difference between 2105 and 2016 on a set of registration paper – and expects the 2015 stain to lower the price in 2016. Camera shops have not got a date pursuing them but they do have the New Model Coming announcements from the manufacturers to lower the perceived value of their current paid-for stock.

I’m sorry to be cynical, but the improvements that are clapped onto and into new cameras and lenses sometimes suggest no more than the difference in tail fins between a 1955 Chevrolet and an 1956 Chevrolet. They do exist, but to no practical benefit.

It is even funnier to watch a professional writer like Ken Rockwell find that every product he encounters to be the best something of something, qualified by something else. It is a form of printed crawdadding that is both refreshing and debilitating by turns.

One thing is absolutely the same with both of the retail trades – the items they sell are going to be primarily black or silver or grey. Or graphite, gunmetal, chrome, brushed aluminium, or jet. The design bureaux for both lines of product may not be Shakers, as evinced by their unnecessary curves, but their paint shops are run by Puritans.

Yesterday’s Oyster? Like yesterday’s camera or yesterdays sedan…try selling it on the hot sidewalk this morning…


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