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Pentax at Houston Camera Exchange?

Douglas Barrow , Oct 10, 2009; 09:53 p.m.

Houston Texas the 4th largest city in the United States has one independent major camera store (that I'm aware of) Houston Camera Exchange. I go there to get some hands on time with the few Pentax products that they have in stock there. I wanted to check out K7 just for kicks. There are a few Wolf/Ritz stores around but most of them have gone out of business.

Went there today and all they had on display was an old K100D and a really old K110D, kit lenses and a couple of DA* lenses... on the top shelf... of the Olympus display case! The Canon, Nikon and Sony cases where full of their latest cameras, lenses, flashes and plenty of other accessories. Same thing for the Oylmpus display case, less the top shelf.

Very depressing to say the least.

I spoke with one of the salesmen. He said there are no Pentax sales reps so their products don't move and they have not received anything to sell or display.

Whats the deal guys? Not even a K20D or even a K-x much less a K7. I don't understand the Pentax sales philosophy and I'm not sure anyone does. Maybe they have abandoned the brick and morter stores and gone strickley online. What else could it be?

Responses


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Peter Zack , Oct 10, 2009; 10:14 p.m.

It really does not make any sense. In Canada we have Best Buy and Future shop* (sister companies) across the country and there are still a few independent stores remaining. Halifax has Carsand Mosher and they have Pentax products. Henry's is also there with Pentax stuff including K-7's and most up to date lenses and flashes. I know Pentax Canada has territory reps.

You have to have some 'street' presence or you just disappear. People who are going to drop $1300 on a camera would like to touch it and have a look at it against the competition. If the first time buyer walks into Houston camera and can't see a Pentax, what's the salesperson going to say about the brand? Nothing positive, they want to sell what they have on the shelf, not help Pentax drive online sales away from the store.

Stupid, just plain stupid.

* Although my last visit to Future shop was disappointing and they had all the major brands on display except Pentax. Not a lens, nothing. So every brand had representation there but Pentax. Last year both cameras and several lenses were on display in a couple FS stores. Not now for some reason. These guys are important and in every major market in Canada with a population of 50,000 or more. To have a street placement, you have to be in their stores.

Roger R. , Oct 10, 2009; 10:56 p.m.

Same thing is true in the Dallas / Ft. Worth Metroplex (the 4th largest Metropolitan area in the US (had to get that in Houston ;) We have three pro camera shops left and none stocking Pentax, so you can't touch the products before buying. Best my local guys will do is special order K-mount Tamron and Sigma glass. You have to take it on reviews and faith and mail order your Pentax gear. Which is certainly not the best choice. I guess it's OK for the Pentax faithful. Heck I'm all about saving the sales tax and better online prices. But for first time DSLR buyers that want to compare cameras and touch they can't do it. I wonder what percentage of DSLR's are still bought locally? Considering the number or closing stores it's can't be high.

I read somewhere that the Wolf chain would be carrying Pentax again. Of course we lost most of the area Wolf stores in their bankruptcy. I kind of had to chuckle... was in the Dallas Wolf super store about six months ago asking about the lack of Pentax gear and the clerk said "oh they be out of business within the year... A couple of months latter it's his store that's out of business". The brick and mortar camera stores are all struggling to keep the doors open, so don't really blame them for cutting inventory. Anyway it's damned annoying not having Pentax on the shelves. I sincerely hope that changes.

Laurentiu Cristofor , Oct 10, 2009; 11:32 p.m.

Maybe Pentax figured out that they are selling more stuff online than through B&M stores. They might have figured out it's too costly to have a presence in stores and that it's worth dropping that even if they lose some customers.

Douglas Stemke , Oct 11, 2009; 10:15 a.m.

There used to be another small independant camera dealer just east of Houston Camera Exchange (I can't recall the name though, Richmond and S. Shepord?), but I haven't been there for at least 5 years.
I'm now in Indinapolis and everytime I check out the Pentax offerings at Roberts (for their part they do have a representative offering) it doesn't matter who the sales person is I hear the same story. Pentax sales never contacts them, they let go of most of their sales force, etc. They point me to Tamron and suggest I consider Tamron K-mount offerings.
I'm not a CEO, but I have a hard time understanding this strategy. They are dependant on word of mouth to push their obviously outstanding products. They save money on the sales force, but loose it on their inability to do the sales spin. Lucky for us Pentax makes great products. Given a choice, I guess, I'd rather have Hoya/Pentax emply engineers than sales people, but then I'm very near-siighted!

Les Lammers , Oct 11, 2009; 01:36 p.m.

Best Buy in Florida has no Pentax in their stores. I can't find the brand in any store near Ft. Myers. I think Pentax is missing the boat by not being in stores. If a prospective DSLR buyer could handle a Pentax it would be easy to see the value and quality for the $$$. When I went looking for a DSLR the affordable offerings from Canikon three years ago they seemed like plastic toys.
Frankly, I could afford to get Canikon but prefer Pentax.

Michael Elenko , Oct 11, 2009; 03:06 p.m.

The frustrations of the current Pentax marketing and sales strategy is a recurring item around here for very good reasons. In addition to physically experiencing the Pentax gear, we know that the only way mindshare is cultivated is by having real goods on hand.

That said, there is a lot of risky street-level retail in photography these days. And there may just be enough Internet sales to keep enough cash flowing. Hoya is channeling all risk with the Pentax brand into product like the 645D. It is obvious that this strategy is woefully incomplete, but it also points to the dire requirement for an equity partner for Pentax products. Or an outright sale.

I won’t start the parlor game of who may be able to bring market presence to Pentax products, but others are welcome to.

ME

Douglas Barrow , Oct 11, 2009; 03:33 p.m.

I was just thinking what Les Lammers just said about Canon and Nikon cameras feeling like plastic a few years back. When I was looking for my first DSLR the one I decided on was the Nikon D50. Good price, starter DSLR, easy to operate. Seemed just right. Then I held one. Seemed small a plasticky. So I decided to go up to the next model the D70S. Little bigger, grid is kind of small, priced a little higher but still kind of small and plastic feeling.

All the sales people I spoke with said Canon of Nikon. Canon just never felt right to me. Then I tried a Pentax K100D. Salesman directed me away from Pentax. Not as good autofocus, not as good picture quality, not good in low light and on and on.

So then I tried a K10D. I was so impressed by the size, heft, feel of the grip and all it's technical achievements. Good price. This was my first "Starter" DSLR. Now look at what I went thru. Most of my desitions are based on feel. You just have to get some hands on the products people.

Laurentiu Cristofor , Oct 12, 2009; 01:27 a.m.

I got my K10D after reading online reviews. I discovered all these build differences after the fact. I knew to keep an eye for Pentax because I helped my wife buy a Pentax compact film camera years ago and we had been very happy with it.

All the sales people I spoke with said Canon of Nikon.

Maybe that's why Pentax pulled out of stores - because sales people were not pushing their products well enough.

Les Lammers , Oct 12, 2009; 10:25 a.m.

Additionally, the Canikons had squinty VF's. :-(
It is not rocket science...if you handle a Pentax vs. a similarly priced Canikon....I think many would choose Pentax...but the Canikon marketing machine is very strong. There may also be 'spiffs' for Canikon sales. That may explain the lack of enthusiasm by B&M stores/sales people for Pentax.


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