Wednesday, May 6, 2009

B&H: The Willy Wonka of Camera Stores

When I went to New York in February, one of the things on my "to do" list was to visit the B&H Superstore in Manhattan.  I didn't have anything to buy, in particular, but I figured since I purchase most of my camera equipment through their web site, I should stop by... put a face to the name, so to speak.

Unfortunately I ran out of time, and I regret this after reading a story today on Inc. entitled: "Why Circuit City Failed, and Why B&H Thrives".

Follow the link to read the whole article, but this paragraph in particular made me smile:

The whole operation is a crazy Willy Wonka factory.  If you want to check out a product that's not on display, a salesperson orders it by computer terminal from a vast stockroom in the basement.  Moments later, as if by magic, the product arrives at the retail counter, via an elaborate system of conveyor belts and dumbwaiters.  You can try out the gear, see if you like it, and, if you do, the salesperson puts it in a green plastic box and places it on another conveyor belt, which runs, above your head, to the pickup counter.  There, an employee bags your purchase.  Meanwhile, your salesperson gives you a ticket, which you take to a payment counter. After you have paid, you get a different ticket that you take to the pickup counter to get your merchandise.

All they need are some oompa loompas, and the scene would be complete!

1 comment:

Devyn said...

I find myself in B&H every month or so for something... The place is truly an experience... Even for folks not looking to buy photography related things... They sell general electronics for pretty good prices and you are never more than ten feet from a sales person waiting to help you. I don't know how they do it... The green bins flying about on all the conveyor belts is also a lot of fun to watch.
You must make the pilgrimage on your next trip to NYC.