Within minutes of walking into the storied B&H New York Superstore, I witnessed something special: a business that understands retail and, better yet, does it right.
Now, I’m not an official expert on retail; however, after working in the business off and on for the last 18 years, I’m pretty good at spotting retail businesses that get it and the ones who don’t (not surprisingly, the former usually far outweigh the latter). What separates B&H from the other 99 percent of retail stores is that it is the complete package—an innovative store with an extensive selection of products, outstanding specialized customer service and a fantastic online presence–and has been for 35 years. Not only is the Manhattan superstore a world famous destination for photographers and videographers, they’ve also integrated online and mail orders seamlessly into their operations, giving B&H a large global following.
Beth & I were lucky enough to take a VIP tour of this famous New York institution and while standing on the ground floor listening to our hosts–Brian Markman, director of sales, and Issac Buchinger, affiliate marketing specialist—explain the inner workings of B&H, I got the same electric rush as standing in Times Square at dusk; there’s so much going on, but yet it all runs like clockwork.
I should also mention that B&H has great prices at the store & online. When we were in Europe last year three of Beth’s memory cards broke so she decided to stock up on extra cards while we were at B&H. Normally she pays about $80 – $120 for a 16GB or a 32GB card, however at B&H she found some really great deals and she was able to get a couple of the standard SD memory cards and a couple Compact Flash Memory Cards. All the cards were about $38/each which was a huge bargain compared to what she normally paid in San Diego! So if you need some memory cards for your camera be sure to check those out – I believe some of them are limited in quantity for the sale price.
If you have an inkling of interest in electronics, especially photo and video, here are seven reasons why B&H should be a must see stop on your trip to New York City:
More hands-on than a Children’s Museum
B&H is fully hands-on, meaning you can try EVERYTHING—lenses, high-end telescopes, photo and video editing equipment, bags, $3,000 microphones, etc. It’s easy to become a kid in the electronic candy store while shopping here!
The superstore features an incredible selection of used photo equipment with the store’s inventory updated daily online. A little bird also told us that frequently you will find new camera bags (only used in the store) in the used equipment section – bonus!
World Famous Microphone Room
B&H has the best microphone testing room in the world. It is set up like a vocal booth in a recording studio and features a unique switcher, making it possible to instantly change between 64 microphones and up to 32 different microphone preamps with the touch of a button. There is no other audio room like it in the world!
B&H wants to help you improve your craft. In addition to its two floors of merchandise, they also offers FREE instructional classes each month. You can check out the store’s class schedule here. They also post classes & instructional videos on the B&H YouTube channel.
Knowledgeable Sales Staff
The staff at B & H is beyond compare. Everyone that works in the store is either a professional in that field (audio, video, home entertainment, photography, etc.) or they are highly trained (3 – 4 weeks) before they hit the sales floor. If you’re not sure what you need or how something works – come talk to the sales people at B & H. Not only will they answer all your questions but you can also try everything in the store to make sure you’re getting the equipment you want.
B & H Is A Very Social Butterfly
The knowledgeable staff extends far past the store walls. B & H is quite the social butterfly and they are active on all the social networks – Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. In fact, the New York Times declared they were the fastest acting company with a response time of only about 2.5 minutes! This is fantastic because you can always get in touch with someone easily. Have a question, compliment or just want to learn more about photography? Be sure to ‘like’ them across the board for instant access – as a bonus they are also putting their instructional videos on their Pinterest board too! Here are their accounts: Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest
The world’s only sales floor conveyor system
The store uses an amazing lift and conveyor system that delivers your purchase from the sales floor to the cash register in 3 to 5 minutes. For the shopper this means unencumbered shopping and for B&H it helps prevent theft which in turn also improves the shopping experience (no annoying sales clerk following right behind you staring at everything you pick up). Unique to B&H, the system is innovative, practical and aesthetically pleasing; it alone is worthy of a stop at B&H. I had heard of this conveyor system for years before making into the store myself and while we were on the tour we were lucky enough to meet the man who created it decades ago – and yes, he still works for B&H!
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