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Dealers Look For Small Gems In Vegas



Dealers Look For Small Gems In Vegas

Along With Big Ticket Digital Items, Photo Retailers Seek Accessories With Better Margins at PMA

by Dan Havlik

The Paris Hotel on the Strip in Las Vegas (Photo by Lorraine A. DarConte)

With over 30,000 retailers, photofinishers and imaging industry leaders set to descend on Las Vegas for the 80th annual PMA Convention, PTN spoke with a few prospective attendees to gauge their expectations for this year’s show. What we heard was not surprising—digital imaging will once again be the name of the game at PMA. But what we also heard from them was a bit more unexpected—it’s not necessarily the big product releases from the likes of Canon and Nikon that photo specialty dealers are most excited about, it’s the smaller digital accessories that increase the bottom line that will be PMA’s real finds this year.

“With film slowly fading, we’re looking for new digital products to sell to expand our profit base,” said Pat Nagel of Idaho Camera in Boise, PTN’s 2003 Dealer of the Year. “So we’ll be looking at home printers, inks and papers at the show this year. We’ll also be looking deeper into data projectors and any kind of digital accessory that can increase our profitability.”

Nagel also cited portable USB flash drives and digital camcorders as two other items he and his brother Dennis—the other half of Idaho Camera—will be researching at PMA 2004.

“The photo industry’s just going to expand deeper into digital accessory items,” he noted. “Just look at all these things that are film related that are no longer around. We need to find things to replace all those items that have become obsolete.”

Joel Paymer of Camera Land in Manhattan said he will also be focusing on “things we can make margins on” at PMA 2004.

“It’s always great to see the latest and greatest of products from the major manufacturers, but it’s equally important to see the stuff in the back of the room that helps pay the rent.”

Paymer, however, called it “ridiculous” to have the show so early in February, saying it clashed with kids’ school vacations and fell in a month that was “not a buying time.” Noting that because of the conflict he would only have a day to walk the show, Paymer urged PMA to consider moving the event to middle or late March.

Though his time will be limited, he said he still intended to give the show a thorough search.

The New York-New York
Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas
(Photo by Lorraine
A. DarConte)

“We’re looking for any kind of accessories, off brands, picture frames, photo albums, you name it,” Paymer said. “We’re looking for any little accessory that we can buy for $2 and sell for $7.”

As an example, he cited an item called Digiclean from Promaster, which is basically a shammy on a piece of plastic that attaches to a camera strap. The device is used for cleaning the LCD screen on the back of digital cameras. “It retails for $3.99 and we make a very substantial profit on it,” Payer noted.
Barbara Hueber of Metro Photo & Imaging in Wichita Falls, Texas said one of her goals at the show this year was to “look at smaller vendors who can offer us profitable products and services.”

“A year ago we found Hollywood FotoFix which does our photo restorations for us,” Hueber told PTN. “We just happened onto them in the smaller vendor section and they’ve helped us tremendously with our restoration work.”

As far as products, Hueber said she would also be looking at traditionally profitable items such as albums and frames, batteries, bags and cases, filters and other “gadgets.”

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