A big for-lease sign has been posted to the door of the building at 801 Durham Dr. in Rice Military. Longtime building tenant Camera Co-Op (see above photo) shut down here at the beginning of last month. The camera-lens mural that surrounded the camera store’s front door has been painted over.
Photos: Stephen J Alexander (door); Camera Co-Op (building)
Houston’s Retail Canon
Shall have to find somewhere else to get my Canon A1 serviced.
VERY sad to see this place go. They were the real deal — guys behind the counter who actually wanted to help you, not just sell you stuff. They still carried 35mm film, darkroom supplies and knew how to use them. You could hang around and ask questions as long as you wanted, never buy a thing, and never feel as if you were getting the bum’s rush.
So the last “real” camera store left in Houston is Camera Exchange on Richmond Ave.? That’s very depressing. Camera Coop was great — I visited it constantly when it used to be located on Shepherd.
Shockingly, the guy who was making Roman chariots and the stone tablets also went out of business. Must be a pure coincidence.
@Claire de Lune: In hindsight, letting people hang out without buying stuff might not have been the best strategy.
The problem for these places, sadly, is that they’er staffed with people that know what they’re talking about. Those people (and rent) have to be paid. No way they can sell goods for less than people can buy onlien. So while people love going in there and being about to touch/feel products and get their questions answered, most people take that knowledge and then head over to amazon.com
I’m not sure what the sollution is
We had a smaller version of that problem even before the internet. I worked for a computer parts shop in San Diego. People would come in and ask us everything since we knew what we were talking about. We’d tell people what was best to buy, pros/cons of some parts over others. Then they’d often take that info and look in the local computer rag at the time, find out who sells each of those parts for a dollar cheaper, and buy elsewhere.
There wasn’t a solution to that problem either (well, there was… we moved into higher end servers and went after a different market, but that’s another story)
Cody, the solution is for people to realize that only total scum steals time from a store without buying there.
That’s right folks, if you go talk to a store employee for an hour, then buy from Amazon, you are a scumbag. A total piece of crap.
@Ross, that maybe true, but that’s not a realistic solution. Shaming someone only goes so far, shame has a price, would you take a little shame to save 30% off? Most people would.
We’re still in that phase where there is not clear solution for brick and mortar vs. online. That’s why Best Buy is on the brink of bankruptcy every other quarter and Circuit City and Radio Shack are gone.
Ross: Agree, it’s a scumbag thing to do. But people have proven that they’ll be ‘scumbags’ to save a buck. What’s the solution? Other than charging people for your time in the store, but then giving them that cost back as a credit. But would you be willing to do that?
@commonsense, what are the scumbags going to do when all of the brick and mortar stores are closed because they can’t lower their prices and provide actual service at the same time? It would help a lot if sales tax became required for all online purchases.
I knew a guy who is a CPA. He was biog on browsing a store and then buying online. I asked him how long he could survive if he spent time talking to a potential customer who then went elsewhere. He got the point, and quit stealing time from stores.
@commonsense Unsurprisingly your inability to know what you are talking about does little to keep you from talking. Best Buys problem isn’t that its brick and mortar and being replaced by online. Its problem is that that it doesn’t offer a quality product at a competitive price. And doesn’t have knowledgeable sales reps for those products.
Microcenter, on the other hand, is a place where the employees are incredibly knowledgeable about computer parts and the prices are competitive with anything you can find online.
Brick and mortar can survive, but it has to actually be a good business. Circuit City and Radio Shack failed for pretty obvious reasons (Circuit City abandoned appliances and Radio Shack…well I’m not really sure how to describe what it did…) Best Buy is going the way of the Dodo because it can’t figure out what it wants to do and doesn’t really excel at anything it does.
Also @Ross, sales tax is required on almost all online purchases these days. Amazon lost that war about a year or two ago.
I should have been clearer, Amazon pays sales tax in Texas. I think they are still skirting it in other places but not a lot. Most of the bigger states have already nailed it down.
Yes, exploiting brick and mortar stores for their convenience and information while spending online is a scummy thing to do. But if you don’t do that, you give scumbags an advantage over you. Eventually they will win, or you will join them.
I admit to browsing the books at Barnes & Noble, finding a book I wanted, then buying it from Amazon in Kindle format while I was still standing there in Barnes & Noble. I felt a little scummy, but I didn’t want to buy a physical book, and Nook is doomed.
I suspect the solution may be for Amazon to create a physical presence. I bet they’ll be able to pick up some cheap book stores soon.