Disappointed in Henry's
Out here on the far coast, I usually order from Beau Photo, and have been pretty happy with them. My brother-in-law (who recently dusted off and is testing his Linhoff) mentioned an item on sale at Henry's. I figured if I was going to order it, I'd get some film and paper at the same time, and just pay for shipping once. Couldn't find much on their website (but Beau's is useless too), so I phoned them, and asked for the items I was looking for.
"Oriental's a brand? Of paper??" "You're lucky we've got some (Ilford) film. It's really hard to get now. Nobody's really making it any more." I told him to forget it, I'd order from Beau.
Was I just unlucky in the guy who answered the phone, or is this typical of Henry's these days?
No experience with Henry's sales staff over the phone, but I've been in two of the three Henry's stores in Winnipeg, and they only sell the basics (all Ilford): film, chemistry, paper, and a few sundry items. I used to be able to count on Photo Central (also in Winnipeg), but they have gone the same way as Henry's. I was in PC recently in need of some warmtone developer. The sales person tried to sell me sepia toner!?!?!?
If you can't find other photo supply stores in a city the size of Vancouver...give Seattle a try.
I have had all sorts of problems with Henry's over the years. They say they have something in stock yet when I drive there, they do not have it. They have ordered the wrong things multiple times and the list goes on and on. I now order as much as possible from Big Camera. Rob, the owner is a great guy and gets right back to you and almost always ships the next day.
He actually is a film shooter himself and is very knowledgeable. He sells some great LF cameras and film in all sizes from 35mm on up, all sorts of papers, both fiber and RC. He also sells a nice variety of chemicals. His prices are very competitive and his shipping charges are nominal, he doesn't seem to inflate them a cent. Sure I have to pay for shipping, but it is a 45 minute ride to the closes Henry's for me so that is gas and time.
Honestly, since I have started with Big Camera I am not going anywhere else as long as Rob can get what I need. Don
I used to shop at Henry's in Toronto, waaaay back when I was attending college (I'm a grandparent now.) I only considered ordering from them this time because of a sale item useful for analog or digital.
I'm quite happy to shop with Beau Photo, and will continue to send most of my business their way. I've also used Rob on occasion, when Beau doesn't have what I need. He's great. I'd order from him more often, if I wasn't on the far side of the country. Orders from Beau will often arrive the next day.
I rarely cross the border, but if I'm anywhere near Seattle, Glazer's is the only reason I'll brave the traffic and actually head into the city. I've avoided mail ordering from outside Canada, if at all possible, since a few nasty experiences with UPS, Canada Customs, and Canada Post.
My experiences with Henry's staff have been really hit and miss. When I tried to order a B&W contrast filter the kid on the phone said "Why bother, you're just going to scan the negative in anyways, you can adjust the contrast then." *sigh*
When I was trying to search down Rodinal it took asking three guys in the store before anyone had even heard of it. However, the one guy who did know, knew that it was now sold as Blazinol and gave me the product code to order it (I didn't want to order it right then, silly me). When I tried to order it months later, no one on the phones could find it in the system. I was in there two weeks ago and on a whim asked the girl at the counter if they could order it, and without the product code she was able to find it and order it for me. I got it three days later.
So basically, Henry's staff are a crap shoot. At least on the digital side they all seem to have a clue (even if they have opinions I don't agree with). It's nice that at Henry's everyone is at least a photo enthusiast; which is more than I can say at any big box store.
I've had good experiences with US orders through KEH.com (great phone service) and B&H (cheap shipping that has yet to cause any issues with the UPS or customs).
I don't know anything about Henry's (I'm assuming it is a Canadian chain of photo stores), but the situation sounds normal for this day and age.
When visiting Canada, I've been told Henry's is the place to go, when you need something 'now'. So I went there, and the guy didn't know what a 'slide film' is. I tried diapositive', E6, even giving names of products, like Velvia, but no, he said he never heard about anything like this.
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Jaroslav: Henry's is the place to go in that it is one of the few full camera chains left. Odd that they didn't know what slide film is, my local Henry's usually has a few over priced rolls in stock (although only in medium format).
The only other two real chains left in Ottawa are Vistek (which aims at high end consumers and pros) and Black's (which aims at consumers). Black's is a great place to pick up cheap rebranded fuji film, and I've had great success with their minilab and printing. But you'll never find slide film there.
The Vistek's website makes them look a bit better than Henry's for people looking for non-mainstream films, but I've only interacted with them on a the phone a few times and was dissapointed (too dissapointed to bother going to the store). Their film prices are just nuts (basically double B&H prices - so long as I buy two rolls, it is cheaper to get from B&H even taking shipping into consideration).
The best place in Canada I've been in for film was Seneal Camera in Calgary. They carried a wide range of film, and give good discounts for cold-stored expired films. Better yet, when I said "I need an LR44 battery" their response was "you want two right?" not "What's that?"
Certain does not help the OP's issue of dealing over the phone, as you never know who you are going to get, but in person it is helpful to cultivate a relationship with a live knowledgeable salesman.
For the longest time I purchased much of my equipment from Fairview Photo in Brantford, as I got to know the previous owner and his long-term experienced staff. Not in Brantford much these days, and the owner sold it, so...
Currently working with a salesperson knowledgeable in film and digital at Henrys, and find that a good relationship.
With the current emphasis on digital, young staff, and likely high turnover, little one can do other than try to make it as easy as possible and reduce the opportunity for them to get it wrong. Not ideal, but the alternate is to just complain...