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Interviews with Retailers: Doug of Camera Land

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Old Sunday 23rd September 2018, 12:51   #1
Troubador
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Interviews with Retailers: Doug of Camera Land, USA

Welcome to this, the first of 4, possibly 5, interviews: 2 from the USA, one from the UK and one or two from continental Europe.

Who am I?
Doug Paymer of Camera Land, New York, USA.

Our Store
Camera Land is a family owned and operated business since 1957. We started out as primarily a Camera specialty shop that handled a few binoculars from the camera manufacturers (Nikon, Minolta, Konica, Olympus and Pentax). Pop taught us "the only difference between us and them has to be us. Everyone carries the same product so product does not make you special. It's all about customer service." We try our best to run our business with Pops words in mind. We lost him a couple of years ago but carry on as he'd taught us.
About 15 years ago my brother Joel took over the Photo division and I expanded the Sports Optics side of the business.
We were located in midtown NYC until 3 years ago. We got tired of working to pay the landlord (rent in NYC is INSANE) and we moved out to Old Bethpage on Long Island. We expanded our space to include a classroom and host learning annex's 2 or 3 times a week. We have a much more relaxed neighbourhood atmosphere here which is great.

Our Customers and How We do Business
The age of our typical customers ranges from over 25 through just under dead, LOL. We take care of many outdoor enthusiasts well into their later years. Folks with more leisure time and adventurous spirit. We like these customers as they are great to meet and chat with.

They are a fair mix of birders, general nature observers, tourists and aren’t really so technically knowledgeable, which is fine as we are here to help. That's the whole point of having a customer service style shop vs buying blind on the internet. We do our best to give the sharpest pricing we can, however we are here to assist with the purchase as well as provide answers and service if a product fails. Although I do think that YouTube and forums have increased folks ability to get more information about optics.

Our customer base, for the most part, are great folks who appreciate our level of service as well as our knowledge. We don't get many who pick our brains and then hunt the internet for the lowest possible price. As stated, we are competitively priced & I'm sure if you spend enough time in front of a computer you'll find some things cheaper, however, you will not find a higher level of service.

In recent years there has been a slight increase in the proportion of women customers.

Our Products & Sales
The binocular brands we stock are Athlon, Burris, Bushnell, GPO, Hawke, Kahles, Konus, Kowa, Leica, Leupold, Minox. Meopta, Nikon, Steiner, Swarovski and Zeiss. Reality is there are way more brands than manufacturers. As far as brands, the major brands IMO are here to stay. New "Pacific Rim" brands pop up all the time. If they market themselves well they may be the next known brand

Our biggest selling magnification by far is 10x, with 8x at maybe 35% of that, then 15x and then a mix of 12x and 7x.

42mm is our top selling format, followed by 50/56mm, then 20/25mm pockets, but the 32mm is our smallest seller and if we sell 2 or 3 10x32's a year it's a lot! I see things remaining the same on sizes sold.

Folks basically ask about what they see others using. 10x and 8x will always be the most used. IMO, 10x and up are best used tripod mounted, however, most people do not like to carry "excess" gear.

Customers ask about capability vs price, ask about the specs and warranty, but the typical question is: what's the best I can get at the price I can afford, that I'll always take with me, so it shouldn't be too heavy, and if I drop it will it be covered?

Our top selling 6 brands are Swarovski, Athlon, Meopta, Kowa, Steiner and Leica.

Our top selling models: SLC, Ares, MeoPros, HX's, Genesis and Trinovid HDs.

We sell more spotting scopes than the average store I think. Kowa, Swarovski, Meopta and Athlon mostly

We will only sell products we feel are worth using from companies we feel have the customer in mind. There are brands we keep here in stock and then there are the brands we are authorized dealers for that we order in as we need it. Certain products literally sell themselves so it would be foolish for us not to offer them, however, that does not mean we believe that they are the best option in that price range. People sometimes just go to our site to buy what they have decided is what they want.

Relationships with Our Suppliers
Most keep adequate stocks so as to give short lead-time deliveries. Some are a back order nightmare and quite honestly we shy away from these brands and mark them as special order only on site.

Most suppliers do not take product back if it's just not a good "fit" for the customer so we will sell it as an open box/demo product and mark the price down at our expense

The way our suppliers support our business with payment terms, and prices etc., varies from company to company. In my opinion, whether a small or large order is placed every authorized dealer should pay the same, in order to make it fair to all dealers. We do a monthly give-away on our web site and the manufacturers work with us to supply the prizes. I think is a great way to promote their products as well as great public relations giving back to the customers.

It would be great if suppliers helped with regard to stock balancing, by allowing us to return slower moving products and replace them with the same value of faster moving product. Same goes for price protection for when prices go down so we do not wind up owning product at a higher cost than new lower prices that other dealers are allowed to sell it for. They could also be a little more selective as to who they allow to sell their products. Having more dealers isn't always the best way to move more product.

Point of Sale Support from Brands
For the most part our suppliers provide adequate, or good point-of-sale materials to use in our store.

Warranty Support

Normally a consumer who has a problem with a binocular will contact us first. We try to work with the manufacturer to have them send the customer a Fed Ex pick up tag and then send a new replacement out. The majority of the brands will do this. There are a few that will not. The brands that will not are not brands that we really get behind as we feel that these brands are not consumer friendly. To have a consumer, with an initial defective product have to ship it to us, for us to ship to the manufacturer, for the manufacturer to ship it back to us to then us ship it to the consumer is not only a crazy waste of time it is also $60-$80 in unnecessary shipping fees.

We will always do a direct replacement for a consumer if they insist, however, it just adds to the shipping expense as it is more efficient for the manufacturer to send a pick up tag (so the cost for return shipping falls to them) and they expedite the replacement as well.

Trading Challenges
Probably the worst are non-authorized dealers that advertise prices that they will never deliver at hoping people call for something and they can switch them to something else. That never changes unfortunately.

Thanks!
A big thank you to Doug for taking the time to give Birdforum members an insight into optics retailing. Doug’s details are given below:

Doug Paymer

https://cameralandny.com/

Camera Land
720 Old Bethpage Rd
Old Bethpage NY 11804
516-217-1000
[email protected]


Lee

Last edited by Troubador : Tuesday 25th September 2018 at 14:05.
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2018, 19:54   #2
PeterPS
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Very interesting, thank you Doug and Lee! I was surprised to read that Zeiss is not one of the top selling 6 brands, any reason for that?
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2018, 20:15   #3
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Great interview with good info. Much appreciated Doug for taking the time and off course Lee also.
It is what I thought that 10X is the most popular, but sales of the 32 aperture is low, I understand about the sales of the 10X32 configuration being low, but 8X32s are low also. Interesting. The observation from Peter regarding Zeiss is interesting also .

Andy W.
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2018, 20:17   #4
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Interesting, thanks for the effort Lee.. Always have had good experience with Cameraland. Now that there is no more Eagle Optics people who miss EO should keep Cameraland in mind.

Now I know what Doug's last name is
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2018, 20:59   #5
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Cameraland is a good one, bought a Minox from them a few years back and was very pleased with their service
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Old Sunday 23rd September 2018, 22:51   #6
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Interviews with retailers: great idea, Lee.

Camera Land sells three times as many 10x as 8x: I wonder whether this relation is typical for the total market? I could well imagine that the European market is a little different in this respect.

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Old Sunday 23rd September 2018, 23:57   #7
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Lightbender,

That would be interesting to find out what if any, the differences are between the EU and the US. Additionally, with many optics bought on-line here in the US, that stat (sales of 10X>8X) may represent much of the US.

Andy W.
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Old Monday 24th September 2018, 00:59   #8
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It was a great idea to have these interviews, Lee. I've always had excellent service from Camera-Land, purchasing both binoculars and cameras. I remember reading somewhere Doug writing that the 10x32's were the slowest selling binocular format. And I always thought that the 8x32s were very popular and I am surprised that they are not.

Bob

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Old Monday 24th September 2018, 03:38   #9
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I've been dealing with Doug and Cameraland for around 10 years now. They are a great group to work with.
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Old Monday 24th September 2018, 08:36   #10
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Thanks to all for your kind words. I am sure you are all going to be interested to see the contrasts and similarities when the other 3 interviews get posted, which will be soon.

Lee
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Old Monday 24th September 2018, 08:38   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PeterPS View Post
Very interesting, thank you Doug and Lee! I was surprised to read that Zeiss is not one of the top selling 6 brands, any reason for that?
Interesting point Peter as is the fact that Doug sells more Meoptas than Leicas.

Lee
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Old Monday 24th September 2018, 11:10   #12
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Thank you T.!!! Great idea!

Best!

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Old Monday 24th September 2018, 15:37   #13
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Thank you Doug and Lee for the very informative interview. Captivating!
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Old Tuesday 25th September 2018, 00:25   #14
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Originally Posted by Troubador View Post
Interesting point Peter as is the fact that Doug sells more Meoptas than Leicas.

Lee
I would wager the lesser cost for a known high quality binocular from a known brand has a lot to do with that. Supporting that is his statement that he sells more Swarovski SLC and Leica Trinovid HD's than the brands corresponding high end.
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Old Tuesday 25th September 2018, 00:39   #15
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I have done business with Cameraland for many years. I have always liked the high level of service
and I recall Doug went to bat for me with the company for an issue I had with a purchase I made.
Things were quickly handled very well.

Lee, I like your idea of these interviews, it is a nice asset to Birdforum.

Jerry
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Old Tuesday 25th September 2018, 01:04   #16
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Originally Posted by Troubador View Post
Interesting point Peter as is the fact that Doug sells more Meoptas than Leicas.

Lee

I'm not surprised. I've had over 150 hunters in camps since 2002, and I seldom see Leica's anymore, with the Geovid being the rare exception. Swaro's rule, and it isn't even close.
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Old Tuesday 25th September 2018, 08:04   #17
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Originally Posted by NDhunter View Post
I have done business with Cameraland for many years. I have always liked the high level of service
and I recall Doug went to bat for me with the company for an issue I had with a purchase I made.
Things were quickly handled very well.

Lee, I like your idea of these interviews, it is a nice asset to Birdforum.

Jerry
Thanks Jerry. I chose Doug because over the years his was a name that kept cropping up on Birdforum in connection with good service and all-round helpfulness.

These interviews have been time-consuming but fun to do and there might be an opportunity to do another and extend the series from 4 to 5. Watch this space.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 25th September 2018, 14:58   #18
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Our pleasure to participate in this as well as be a part of Bird Forum. If we can ever assist the members here with anything it's always our pleasure.

If you have an issue with any product, whether you purchased it from us or elsewhere, if we handle the brand we will be glad to assist you with it.

Lee,
Thanks for including us.
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Please visit our website @ www.cameralandny.com
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Old Tuesday 25th September 2018, 15:11   #19
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Thanks for the interview Doug, and the write up Lee.

Reputations are built slowly and hard won over the years. Although I've never followed through with any purchases there (for one reason or another - not to do with the Store or Business), I've always received great, prompt, courteous, accurate and informative service from there, and as such, haven't hesitated to recommend Doug and CLNY to others on many occasions.




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Old Tuesday 25th September 2018, 15:22   #20
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Originally Posted by gr8fuldoug View Post
Our pleasure to participate in this as well as be a part of Bird Forum. If we can ever assist the members here with anything it's always our pleasure.

If you have an issue with any product, whether you purchased it from us or elsewhere, if we handle the brand we will be glad to assist you with it.

Lee,
Thanks for including us.
You are most welcome Doug, and thanks for devoting the time to take part.

Lee
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Old Tuesday 25th September 2018, 15:24   #21
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Originally Posted by Chosun Juan View Post
Thanks for the interview Doug, and the write up Lee.

Reputations are built slowly and hard won over the years. Although I've never followed through with any purchases there (for one reason or another - not to do with the Store or Business), I've always received great, prompt, courteous, accurate and informative service from there, and as such, haven't hesitated to recommend Doug and CLNY to others on many occasions.

Chosun
CJ
Thanks for your kind words, and your comments about CL NY are similar to the many that convinced me I should target Doug to take part.

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Old Wednesday 26th September 2018, 01:29   #22
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Doug and Lee....enjoyed it!
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Old Wednesday 26th September 2018, 03:07   #23
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Doug and Lee....enjoyed it!
Great Success, Doug! Wonderful coverage, Lee!! I Also enjoyed the read and information!!!

Ted
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Old Wednesday 26th September 2018, 03:27   #24
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Hello,

I purchased a Meopro 6.5x32, a Leica 7x42BA and two Zeiss FL, the 8x32 and the unloved 10x32, both demos. That Austrian brand's 8x30 seems to be doing well. My guess is that old habits are hard to overcome. The best 8x32 binoculars do very well with brightness with the introduction of improved coatings and dielectric mirrors.

As for 10x power predominance, CLNY sells to a lot of hunters who may favour 10x over 8x more than bird watchers do.

Thanks for the interview,
Arthur :pinewood:
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Old Thursday 27th September 2018, 12:58   #25
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Hello,

I purchased a Meopro 6.5x32, a Leica 7x42BA and two Zeiss FL, the 8x32 and the unloved 10x32, both demos. That Austrian brand's 8x30 seems to be doing well. My guess is that old habits are hard to overcome. The best 8x32 binoculars do very well with brightness with the introduction of improved coatings and dielectric mirrors.

As for 10x power predominance, CLNY sells to a lot of hunters who may favour 10x over 8x more than bird watchers do.

Thanks for the interview,
Arthur :pinewood:
You are welcome Arthur.

Lee
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