No, it’s not Iceland, or Namibia, or Karijini or the Kimberley…… It’s B&H!
I just got back from a couple of weeks in New York and while I was there I checked out what would have to be the biggest photographic store in the world… surely. Nothing prepared me for what I saw when I went into this incredible store…seriously.
I walked in downstairs (it’s a two story shop that must almost take up an entire city block in Manhattan). The first thing that hit me was the video camera section.
I was blown away at how many cameras were set up for you to play with…. cameras, lenses, pan & tilt heads, tripods, grip gear…. you name it. I spent about 30 min walking around this area with my jaw open… then I moved into the audio gear… There was a whole sound proof room full of microphones to test. DJ gear! Editing Equipment, cables, you name it.
Finally I asked somebody…. where are your digital SLRs? Oh thats up on Floor two! So I took the escalator up to the second floor and I was even more flabbergasted. It was dominated by all things SLR, but also had computers, printers, bags and accessories. I stood there in a daze (literally)… my brain and wallet were overawed. Finally I asked one of the hundreds of sales guys (literally) what do I do.
He pointed me to a short line of about 5 people and said wait there and you’ll be called to speak to a sales consultant. As I moved forward to the front of the line I ended up under an accoustic dome… and this robot female voice whispered in my ear “please go to consultant number 53″……. Consultant Number 53!!! Holy Moly how many are there…. As I walked up to my designated sales consultant, I looked around and I saw that there were in fact 67 consultants behind the benches…. all spots were full. And these 67 were just for digital SLR sales!
Look at the above image… against the wall you can see the numbers above each consultant for as far as your eye can see. I am only showing you about 1/4 of the DSLR area. To my right were another 24 consultants, behind me were all the Nikon, Canon & Sony booths as well as printer areas.
When I got up to see my sales guy (his name was Joel) and he was very knowledgable… he had an embedded monitor in the counter and we started talking about how he could fulfill my needs of the day…. I was still blabbering incoherently and overwhelmed. Joel was used to this… he said the shop is literally overwhelming to many first-time visitors. He said he has seen foreigners literally crying because they are so confused and overwhelmed.
As we started getting down to business, Joel would tap a few keys on the computer, then the next thing he would bend down and pull out the item we just ordered. Thats when I noticed the most amazing conveyer belt system I have ever seen. I make a request… Joel keys it in the computer…. Instantly in the basement warehouse the item is picked form the shelves and dropped into a little basket which then whizzed up two floors, flys underneath all the counters and magically pops out at Joel’s feet in about 60 seconds. It’s incredible!!!
I asked Joel about the shop, and he gave me these incredible facts!!!!
- 1700 employees work for B&H (shop floor, warehouse, office)
- On the second floor of the shop alone there are between 250 and 350 employees working!
If you guys are ever in New York, put B&H on your list of must-see tourist destinations.