Selling the Steak, But Not the Sizzle

I stopped at a camera store in Allentown Pennsylvania named Dan‘s Camera City and the building was a long tan and blue building that didn’t have an interesting creative exterior, the store’s sign was partially overgrow with shubbery, and when I went inside and looked around I thought this is exactly how so many camera shops look like today–like they’re not selling photography, just selling cameras.

The Leica stores I think are doing very well because they feature photographers galleries of work made by the cameras that they sell and they divide their store in half, a gallery and sales floor, and there’s a distinct division. When you walk into one of their stores, it feels like you’re in a photographic gallery, a place that is about photography.

Back to Dan‘s Camera City, I saw shelves of bags and tripods and cameras behind cases. Large sign boards with photos that I didn’t even notice. A grouping of photographs above eye level that only serves as decoration.

They’re definitely in the gear business. Not selling photography.

I thought how wonderful it would be to have a photograph that somebody who shops at the store made of their grandma and put it in a frame and put it on the wall to inspire others to photograph their grandma.

To make up a wall of photographs from a customer who photographed a local car show and feature their work to inspire other people to want to make similar work.

Or to have a wall with creative abstract photographs by a photographer who really identifies as an artist and put their work up in a display so that other photographers can get inspired to think, “I could try that, too.”

At the last Month of Photography show in Denver, there was one photographer who had created a series of photographs with a couple of young girls sitting by a small stream, finding a suitcase floating in the stream, opening the suitcase, seeing it was full of vintage clothing, putting on the clothes and playing dress-up. It was a wonderful photo project, completely created by an artist’s vision. Something like that could be hung at the camera shop. Even have art openings with the photographers in attendance to meet other photographers and discuss their work.

Photographs are emotional, gear is emotionless.

It’s like all the camera store has to offer is raw meat, but they really need to get cooking! You can’t smell the seared meat, you can’t taste the savory flavor, you can’t hear the sizzle of the steak which I think would have a much bigger impact for a customer walking in and making them inspired to learn photography.

To sell photography along with gear.

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5 thoughts on “Selling the Steak, But Not the Sizzle

Add yours

    1. Can an opinion or perception be harsh? Aren’t they selling photography like a bike shop is selling the experience of biking?


      1. One of the definitions of harsh is excessively critical or negative. No, they are selling cameras or bikes. An interest in photography or biking is a reasonable presumption, but not a necessary one.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. I certainly don’t aim to be negative, just trying to gauge the perception to the average customer and seeing if they’re losing sales by not selling the work. I want them to succeed, ultimately. I believe in photography, as you know. Thanks for your comment and always reading and commenting, Merlin.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The salesman’s mantra has long been to sell the sizzle, not the steak. You might well be onto something here, our local photography store just closed, there must be many more just hanging on and in need of a fresh vision!

    Liked by 1 person

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