It was certainly a happening.
Consider what was going on at the same place on the same day: an HP press conference at noon; a chapter meeting of the NY/NJ Metro division of PMA at 3:00 pm; an all-day (and after-hours) open house at Danís Camera City, one of the very-high-profile independent photo dealers in the country.
Any one of these alone would suggest my participation. All three at the same time was required attendance, but a free lunch and dinner made it a command performance.
I wasnít alone. They came from near and far: Rob Miller from Schillerís Imaging, St. Louis, flew in; Tom Skaggs, Blosserís Camera & Video, and Chuck Rosen, Star Photo, drove over 600 miles from Indiana. Brent Boyer, IPI president, made it from West Virginia, and Harry Loyle, president of Moto Franchise Corp., attended from his Dayton headquarters. It was quite an assemblage.
Ted Fox, executive director of PMA, spent the entire day at the meeting.
According to Bill McCurry, McCurry Associates, Princeton, NJ, who quarterbacked the event for HP, representatives from about 50 dealerships were there. There were more than 100 heads in Danís Cameraís backroom (22 journalists, over 80 dealers), which is barely large enough for his daily staff meetings and consumer classroom events but was SRO for this extravaganza. Bill said some who wanted to attend the gala could not be accommodated.
Hewlett-Packard may have picked up the tab for the meeting, but it was Mike Woodland, Danís CEO, who made the most significant contribution of the day. He completely opened up his 15,000-square-foot facility to the entire assemblage and allowed everyone full access to the store, his equipment, his staff, and, yes, his customers. Not only that, he had three key members of his staff prepare formal presentations about how and why they handled their specific responsibilities within the organization.
All this was happening while Danís floor staff of about 24 employees (out of a staff of about 65) was deftly handling customers (about 400 a day) like it was a routine day at the store. That it wasnít, with us interlopers milling about and getting in the way.
Hey, Mike, wasnít this quite a disruption to your business? ďOf course it was. But it was managed disruption,Ē he said.
You were so open and giving of the way you run your business; not many retailers would be so willing to share. Why? ďThe photo specialist is becoming too small a category, and the manufacturer will become less interested in us as a group unless we can collectively increase our strength. We must remain as strong as possible and keep our channel healthy and viable.Ē A worthy goal.
As for the ďsharingĒ part, Mike said that as members of both PMA and the PRO Group, ďwe are used to the concept of sharing.Ē
These positive attitudes have been rewarding to Mike as Danís has been named Dealer of the Year for various trade pubs, including PTN magazine. Mike started his photo career at age 16, and prior to working at Danís Camera City, and purchasing it three years ago, he was with The Camera Shop chain in Pennsylvania for a number of years.
The press conference segment of the day was to show off two pieces of equipment that HP unveiled at photokina but not yet in the U.S. Rather than the usual technique of displaying the equipment to the press on a platform with spotlights in a hotel ballroom, HP thought it would be a good idea to install them in an on-site facility for us press-types to see in a real-world situation. Danís Camera was chosen, and this decision grew like Topsy. What started out to be just a press event ended up as a full-scale assault on the store for the full-day program of activities.
The two stars of the day were the Photosmart pm1000 Microlab Printer and the Designjet Z3100, a 44-inch wide-format inkjet printer.
The pm1000 is an inkjet printer dedicated to 4x6 prints only, with an output rate of 700 per hour. Similar to the print engine found in the HP Photosmart Express kiosk, the pm1000 is being promoted as an instant-print solution that can be driven by a variety of input stations. It uses six individual 775-ml ink cartridges and can be loaded with 3,300 cut 4x6 sheets. The unit is rather compact at 28 inches wide, 30 inches deep, and 32 inches high. Price: $12,000. At Danís it was up and running.
Greg Kearnan, HPís director of sales, did the on-floor demo of the new wide-body printer at Danís. Called the Designjet series, it consists of four models: the Z2100, with 8-color cartridges, in either 24- or 44-inches; and the Z3100, with 12-color inks, in either 24- or 44-inches. He said the prices for the models are: $3,995 and $5,995 for the 24-inch models; $4,495 and $6,795 for the 44-inch units.