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  1. #111

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    My two cents:

    I worked at Ritz Camera briefly back in 2002 and 2003. Not to stereotype, but I have never worked with a more incompetent group in my life. I won't bore you with all the details. But things I saw:

    a)A sales associate yelling at a CUSTOMER regarding late prints on more than one occasion
    b)Lab "technicians" printing extra photos they thought were funny, and posting them in the back or taking them with them
    c)Holier-than-thou sales associates who would gladly proclaim that "only Ritz can afford me!" (I'm sadly not making this up)
    d)Lab technicians being allowed to cut stacks of prints at once from paper to save time...often resulting in jagged edges and crooked prints
    e)a manager who was fired after she ordered an employee to clock her in while she was on vacation

    The extent of the lab's expertise was to look at each photo and make them as bright as possible (those were our instructions) and add random color.

    The worst was my store manager who told me I couldn't quit, because I "owed" her for "taking a chance" on me by hiring me during the holiday season (I should mention I was living at college at the time).

    I occasionally had digital prints done at Ritz over the years, the convenient location and $.19/print price as a member had its perks. But I was always less than satisfied with the quality of their film prints, even though they were usually quick and close. The local Wal-Mart, about 10 more minutes down the road, does a much better job. This broke my heart, because I wanted to continue to support any local film place I could.

    I stopped patronizing their film because of the price and an experience I had last year. I was trying to get some prints done quick, and Wal-Mart said they were too backed up. So I went to Ritz, who said they'd definitely be ready by close (there were still three hours left before that). I went back about ten minutes before close, to find my prints still sitting in the same place as they were; the sales associates had closed down the Frontier an hour early because, get this, they got "too busy" and wanted to clean up so they wouldn't have to stay too long past close. So much for one hour photo. I have rarely dealt with more rude sales people in my life.

    Needless to say, I never went back. I even considered buying a Canon 100-400L lens from them at one point, but it was $400 cheaper online. Can't say I'm going to miss Ritz, although I hate seeing places that process film go down.

  2. #112

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    Quote Originally Posted by marylandphoto View Post
    My two cents:

    I worked at Ritz Camera briefly back in 2002 and 2003. Not to stereotype, but I have never worked with a more incompetent group in my life. I won't bore you with all the details. But things I saw:..............
    And there I was feeling sorry for them

    Bob H
    "Why is there always a better way?"

  3. #113
    accozzaglia's Avatar
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    Ladies and gentlemen . . . on your mark . . . get set . . . race to the bottom!

    Quote Originally Posted by jd callow View Post
    Yes they will.

    They research the best price point and then strong arm vendors to build to the price point. The world economy now means that if you can't get it for 9.99 from one company/country, another will be happy to oblige. The resulting product may be crap (as most are now), but they have yet to reach the point where the consumer revolts. As options disappear a revolt will not be feasible. When and if we want our widgets to last, the price disparity of the super giants buying power and the small vender willing to produce a good product will be too vast. If it isn't already.

    The big boxes need to continue on this trajectory even if they become the only players. As they need growth (the share holders need to be fed), and to do this whilst real spending power drops means that products must also drop in price.

    Stagnant wages, such as we've had for the last 10 years, are masked by the charade that we can buy more with our dollar.

  4. #114

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    There was a Ritz at the local mall & I used to walk in & browse once in a while. One time I asked if they stocked sheet film. ( NO! ) Would they special order it for me? (NO!) Good riddance.

  5. #115

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobNewYork View Post
    And there I was feeling sorry for them

    Bob H
    Touche. There's a lot I left out though.

  6. #116
    accozzaglia's Avatar
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    Schadenfreude!

    Share your stories on the APUG anecdote instalment plan!

    Quote Originally Posted by marylandphoto View Post
    Touche. There's a lot I left out though.

  7. #117

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    Quote Originally Posted by marylandphoto View Post
    My two cents:

    I worked at Ritz Camera briefly back in 2002 and 2003. Not to stereotype, but I have never worked with a more incompetent group in my life.
    Sounds about right. I worked between two different Ritz stores depending on if I was at college or not. At home, an ultra store.....with the exception of one individual, I worked with the nicest and most competent people I've ever met. We literally stocked everything in the catalog up to $5k. Special orders were made promptly, and we generally dealt directly with the warehouse ourselves instead of using the usual ritz express(you pay now, it shows up in a few days). When at school, at the mall store things like "yeah you can use your old fd lenses on that new eos body, they're both made by canon". "Oh yeah every nikon lens ever will work on that d40 you got(when it needs af-s lenses unless you want to manually focus)". "Something must be wrong with your xp-2 all the frames are blue instead of black and white"(the frontier really and truely has a black and white setting). "Oh we cant process that it says proffesional"(portra....or any other "pro" C-41 film).

  8. #118
    Photo Central - AT's Avatar
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    A lot of what I'm seeing in this thread is both encouraging and discouraging - from the perspective of a camera store owner.

    It's encouraging that so many of you do see the value in knowledgeable staff and courteous service - it is what we strive for everyday. Unfortunately, as has been pointed out, paying the kind of staff we want is difficult with the margins we make these days. To counteract that, we allow full schedule flexibility for our staff to maintain their shooting careers as well. This keeps them current and active in photography, and subsidizes their income. It also means we can be short-staffed at a moment's notice, but we deal with that.

    As for Ritz, I can't help but smile somewhat. I know what this kind of thing does to the industry, but hopefully this can serve as a wake-up call. I would like to think that this will serve as a good object lesson in why margins need to be higher, but I agree with people here that it probably won't. What I would like to see is a reduction in chain expansion, especially into smaller markets. Will this happen? Who knows. But the big chains have started closing stores in smaller markets, so hopefully they won't just start opening them in others.

    Finally, with regards to chains, there is another element which I see regularly and which discourages me to no end. For those people who are new to photography who purchase from a chain (whether a Best Buy type, or even a "photo chain" like Ritz or Henry's (Canada's version of Ritz)), too often they lose interest in photography because they aren't given a chance. They buy a camera (film or digital), don't know how to get past step A or B, and don't realize the potential they are missing because no one is willing and able to help them along. Unless they happen upon a better store, they think their Rebel kit set to portrait mode is all there is to photography, and they're lost, rather than becoming an enthusiastic hobbyist. This, more than anything I think, is costing the "true" camera stores. Photography as a true hobby has declined significantly over the last few years, which takes away the bread and butter of businesses like ours.

    This, of course, is my experience. Others may have different ones. I do hope you support your local shops. They're what make hobbies fun.

    Cheers all, and good luck to you.

    Regards,

    Andrew

  9. #119

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    Andrew - you have it in a nutshell.

    Have you also noted how an increasing number of people buy their equipment in the big box store - and then come to you with the problems - because they can't get help in the store where they bought it?

    I do hope the big boxes leave the smaller markets, but of course, that means that the larger markets will have only big boxes. The other issue I have is that when the box stores move into an area they demand, and get, tax abatements.

    You gotta love the level playing field!

    Keep at it Andrew - we're with you!

    Bob H
    "Why is there always a better way?"

  10. #120
    Barry S's Avatar
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    Andrew-- I'd be very surprised if we didn't see a lot of chain expansion curtailed--especially in unproven markets. Good for you for figuring out how to make your positions attractive by offering flexibility as a benefit. There's nothing worse than dealing with an unhappy employee--it drives buyers straight to online sales. Brick and mortar stores sometimes forget they're selling a value-added service and one size doesn't fit all. I like stores that are responsive to their customer's needs by stocking more difficult to find items. If you only stock a subset of Best Buy's merchandise--you're trying to compete with them. I also like camera stores that stock plenty of used equipment. It allows for trades, finding non-mainstream items and the markup is better than on new equipment.



 

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