Passion proves key to local success
DALE Winter has only owned Camera House in Stockland for a year and a half, but he's already being recognised for his hard work and stellar service.
He was recently awarded the 2016 Outstanding Member of the Year Award by the group and even though he wasn't expecting it, was "pretty stoked” for the recognition out of the 70 stores Australia wide.
Dale, who has worked in the store for the last six years, said working in retail isn't rocket science and attributes the store's success to the right combination of customer service and passion.
"It's really just customer focus, retail's not complicated,” Dale said.
"It just comes down to knowing the product and having staff who are truly interested in what they're selling whether it be chainsaws, ballet shoes, or cameras.
"It's about having people who are generally interested.
"Obviously when you take over a new store you tend to put more hours into the store, but I've always treated the store like my own from the beginning.
"It's a matter of keeping that reputation and trying to help out people in any way that you can.”
Dale said community is also important to the store which supports charities as well as local photography.
"We also help the community and try to do what we can,” Dale said.
"We support not only photography shows and groups, but also the wider community like Special Children's Christmas.”
Although mobile phones are boasting increasingly capable cameras, Dale said customers are still interested in and passionate about buying traditional cameras.
"People are taking more photos than every before,” Dale said.
"Although the smaller compact market has dried up a bit because so many people maybe think, I'll just use my phone, that's introducing them to photography.
"When people finally get to a point they realise in perhaps situations like outside sunlight, people are getting interested in buying enthusiast cameras, SLRs, or compacts with much bigger sensors.”
One unique feature of the store is their commitment to quality photo printing, choosing to use tried and true methods as well as modern techniques such as metal printing.
"We still run a traditional high quality wet lab,” Dale said.
"A lot of the big box stores have moved to ink or dry technology, the prints can be very flat.
"We'll hold on and keep doing that as a point of difference as long as people still want it.
"We're also doing a lot of metal prints as well as traditional canvases.
"Metal is the new thing.”
Despite online shopping being the flavour of the day, customers are beginning to make the change to physical and speciality stores.
"There's been a move away from online back to the bricks and mortar store,” Dale said.
"For some people they might have the impression that speciality stores are more expensive, but that's not the case.
"Sales are about the same as last year, but last year was a good increase.”
With Christmas coming up, Dale's prediction is "photography and video drones are going to be huge”, starting from $600.