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November 19, 2005
You go to B&H! (especially if you're an ultra-Orthodox Jew)
There are some places in the city - like Zabar's or Katz's - that seem to have been made specifically for the global cosmopolitanism that is New York. According to Newsday, camera store B&H Photo-Video is also one of those places. Run and managed by ultra-Orthodox Jews from the metropolitan area, the store has become a "New York institution" and "perhaps the most famous camera store in the world":
"Affectionately known as "Beard and Hats" because of the dress and customs of the employees, B&H has become a singular New York experience, akin to ordering a pastrami on rye at Katz's Delicatessen... It's a frenetic and loud scene that involves fast-moving lines of customers, all pushing and elbowing to get to the finish line, or in this case, a row of stern-looking cashiers with beards."
Interestingly, the store derives nearly 70% of its profits from a booming online business:
"One indication of B&H's success that cannot be concealed sits in the Brooklyn Naval Yard: a nearly 200,000-square-foot warehouse that feeds its online division, which represents about 70 percent of B&H's business."
As an aside, the store's radio commercials are unbelievably annoying, but I guess that's part of the charm. Here's a review of B&H from PhotographyReview.com:
"If the price is significantly lower than B & H Photo, it is probably a scam... I've dealt with B & H for many years and they are reliable and the merchandise is as advertised. I've only bought new equipment from them. I'm from NY, but the rest of you don't have to listen to their god-awful radio advertisements. Their radio ads are an embarrassment; get past that and they are a solid company."
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