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Friday, 08 May 2020

Comments

I've been a B&H customer since 1976, when I walked into their small (at the time) store and purchased an Olympus OM-1. Within the last few weeks, my orders have experienced delays between placement and shipment. Your post and the linked article probably explain why.

I too wish B&H well and look forward to a complete recovery / re-hiring as soon as possible. Unfortunately, even the most optimistic timelines for deployed COVID-19 vaccines don't bode well. May Blimie and Herman have salted away sufficient resources so their business can not just survive, but thrive when the pandemic is finally over.

Mike, I know the macro unemployment numbers seem insurmountable, but I can't help wondering how much of those numbers reflect a cash-flow problem vs. the actual collapse of the economy. I am no economist, but it does seem that in some single-digit number of months we will have figured out how to live our lives with CV-19 risk baked in, the way we do with cancer, heart-attacks, and strokes. At that point, I am guessing that the my-spending-is-your-income part of this crisis will start to ease. In other words, I don't know how to distinguish how many of those B&H jobs are "really" gone and how many are "gone right now." To be sure, we are running the experiment in real time and that's no fun at all. I guess part of me really believes that if I pick up the phone to order my long-sought-after Nikon mirrorless camera that someone will pick up the phone at B&H and be ready to take my money. That is, if I have any money. . .

Sigh. We'll say in the coming days, "Dude, that is such Golden Age thinking."

. . . Comment number 2.

After re-reading your post, I realized that there is another way to frame this: You mean after 30 million Americans have filed for unemployment and the world economy has ground to a halt, that B&H, a purveyor of products nobody actually needs* except a small number of "pros" has laid off _only_ 1/5 of its workforce? Things must not be as bad as I feared.

I don't mean to minimize the panic that has certainly come to those B&H employees who have been laid off. But in the current climate I am sort of surprised that B&H has enough cash to continue paying 4/5 of its staff.

* I need food, water, shelter and oxygen. I want Nikons, Leicas, digital storage and photography in general.

One fifth is just 20% in my math...not too severe considering the state of retail in these dire days...

Sad to hear. I think I've spent enough money at the B&H store(s) in person over the years to pay for a year of college for one of my kids. It is a great place to shop, great sales staff, and really nice cashiers. The retail store has been closed for weeks now, I think.

I hope this crap passes quickly so they can re-open and rehire their staff.

I've never had a bad experience with them and have preferred shopping at B&H for at least the past 14 years. Their honesty and good service are an excellent counterpoint to the traditionally (and often deservedly) bad reputation of so many NYC camera shops going back to the '70s if not earlier.

I do get the feeling that people just don’t realize that we have Great Depression levels of unemployment right now. We aren’t going to have some kind of instant turnaround where everyone gets to go back to work. Some companies are permanently closing. Others will downsize for a long time. Unlike in other countries that immediately made sure workers stayed on payroll, we slowly passed an insufficient paycheck protection act that ran out of money in weeks. Workers will have to reapply for job openings, competing with each other. Hopefully the next stimulus bill will seriously help small businesses and regular people, because they will need it for some time.

From a purely strategic standpoint many employers who are not receiving loans via the PPP program are initiating furloughs earlier than they might have otherwise done. This allows those furloughed employees to take advantage of the $600/week enhanced unemployment benefit. This enhancement runs only through the end of July - so an employee furloughed now gets more than if the employer dipped into reserves to hold on for another month. Obviously this benefit is less attractive in the NYC market, but better than nothing. And, depending upon the employee’s wage, they might be better off.

I am sorry to hear the news but not surprised. The digital camera industry has been in trouble for at least a year even before the Coronavirus. B&H was smart to divest into also selling computers and professional video equipment.

I remember buying from them in the 1970s. I don't recall how I paid for items because that was pre-credit card for me (was there ever such a life in USA?). I must have mailed a personal check.

Sad news indeed!

I hope that B&H recovers and hires everyone back ASAP. I have always brought from B&H over the years and I'm always very happy with my experience there.

I'll continue to support them as much as possible despite my wife's displeasure.

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