Six days shalt thou offer unmatched prices and customer service

Fascinating trivia (and not-so-trivia) about one of the iconic advertisers of my video-camera-obsessed early adolescence.

I have often gone into B&H to purchase a specific product, only to be talked into something cheaper. For example, once I went in to buy a field video monitor to use for some interviews I was conducting. I expected to pay $600 until the salesperson said, “Why don’t you just get one of these cheap consumer portable DVD players? They have video inputs, they work just as well, and they’re under $100.” This was no accident. “The entire premise of our store is based upon your ability to come in, touch, feel, experiment, ask, and discuss your needs without sales pressure,” B&H’s website says.

But wait: The conveyer belts, the prices, the smart salespeople, the fact that they recommend cheaper products almost as a rule—none of these is actually the most amazing thing about B&H. Really, the most amazing thing is that because the owners of B&H are Orthodox Jews—Hasidim, in fact—the store closes every Friday afternoon for the Jewish Sabbath, and on Jewish holidays. Moreover, B&H’s website, which reportedly accounts for 70 percent of sales, shuts down, too. Bhphotovideo.com is, to my knowledge, the only major online retailer that closes for 25 hours every weekend.


from “Why Circuit City Failed, and Why B&H Thrives,” by Joel Spolsky, Inc. Magazine, May 2009 :: via kottke.org

Originally published at culture-making.com.

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