Leica Camera Brings European Boutique Format to U.S.
by Alice B. MillerCamera West, Monterey, CA
Following a series of successes in Europe, Leica Camera AG
debuted its "Shop-in-Shop" format in the U.S. at Camera West of
Monterey, California on June 28th.
As the first U.S. photo specialty retailer selected to host an in-store Leica boutique, Camera West has caught the attention of professional photographers and Leica aficionados alike.
The Shop-in-Shop concept, which features an expanded selection of vintage, rare, and one-of-a-kind products and cameras, was introduced to the European trade during photokina 2000 in Cologne, Germany. Several months later, the first shop opened in Solms, Germany, Leica's corporate headquarters.
Why Camera West?
When asked why Leica selected Camera West to launch its new concept in the U.S., Christian Erhardt, marketing manager, Leica Camera USA, explained, "Camera West is an ideal partner for this project because it's a dedicated and knowledgeable retailer that carries a wide variety of new and used Leica equipment. Sean Cranor, the store's owner, is a passionate Leica owner and retailer who represents the Leica image well-both personally and professionally."
Camera West, a Central California-based company specializing in fine photographic equipment for the advanced amateur and collector, was founded in February 2000 by Sean and Diana Cranor. The original 600-sq. ft. store has grown into a 2,000-sq. ft.-plus retailer with numerous select product lines and a loyal customer following.
According to Sean Cranor, "We have one of the most extensive inventories of new, used, and collectable items on the West Coast, from subminiature to large-format, including digital cameras, printers, and accessories." Among their clientele are many professionals, fine art photographers, and collectors from around the world, as well as numerous local photographers.
Camera West has built a separate room for its Leica Shop-in-Shop, accessible by four steps up and through an eight-foot doorway. "This layout makes an impressive entry to the library-style display cases filled with the latest Leica film and digital cameras, lenses, and accessories," says Cranor. "The room also contains one of the largest selections of rare, vintage, and one-of-a-kind Leica cameras in the U.S."
All staff members are knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the Leica line, and any one of them is capable of assisting customers. The major advantage of the Shop-in-Shop format is that it allows the entire line of Leica products to be presented in a single area, with more display space. "In addition," adds Cranor, "we offer Leica product brochures, handbooks, product history books, and devote the wall space to fine photography by Leica shooters."
Spreading Leica Wildfire
Word is spreading that Camera West is the Leica place to be. Customers are learning about it through word of mouth, from the store's website, and from promotions in national photo magazines. Camera West sponsored a Leica Shop grand opening attended by Leica U.S.A. president Roger Horn, prominent photographers, journalists, and collectors. At press time, the Cranors were scheduled to film a television commercial in late August.
"Our goals for the Shop-in-Shop are to increase Leica sales for current Leica enthusiasts and introduce a new group of customers to the Leica experience," says Cranor. "In the short time the Leica Shop has been open, we've seen a very positive response. Our customers love this room, partly because we've had the opportunity to work with them on an entirely new level, from a sales and service perspective."
Cranor reports a substantial increase in business with new Leica users. "Leica aficionados from all over the world have contacted us through our website," he says. "Many devoted users have traveled to Monterey to visit our store. Leica users consider themselves a very select group and really appreciate a boutique dedicated to their beloved Leicas. We're delighted to have the first USA Leica Shop and plan to continue to carry a full line of Leica products, cameras, and binoculars."
Leica's Shop-in-Shops, developed in partnership with retailers, have proven successful in all markets. The 10 Leica boutiques in Germany have increased sales on average by more than 125 percent. Sales in the more than 30 Leica Shop-in-Shops in France have increased by 75 percent. And the Austrian store has seen sales climb significantly as well.
Leica plans to introduce several additional Leica Shop-in-Shops throughout the U.S. within the next few months, in key photographic retail locations such as New York City, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, and Chicago.