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Your friendly local Theatrical Supply House

Discussion in 'General Advice' started by derekleffew, Feb 15, 2008.

  1. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    I took a field trip this afternoon to one of the three major Stage Lighting Shops in town.

    At the front desk, I asked for anyone in sales, possibly X, as I had spoken with X on the phone but had never met her or visited her shop. She gladly gave me several new "Numeric Edition" Lee Filters swtchbooks and 20 Roscolux swatchbooks for my upcoming Lighting Class. Since she was being so accomodating, I decided to push my luck as ask if she had any GAM books, as I told her the one I had was dated 1998. She told me GAM only updates its book once every five years and returned with a couple dated 01/08. She told me she stocks LUX and LEE, but GAM and AP are special order, although she STOCKS Apollo B-size patterns exclusively! This led to a discussion of Gelatran, Cinemoid, and Roscolene. She asked "Do you want some Roscolene? I have about 1000 sheets of it." So I rattled off some numbers, she came back saying they took it out of the drawers a few years ago so now it is boxes. She said she was considering putting the whole lot up on ebay as "art materials" or for some purpose other than coloring stage lights, as Roscolene just cannot take the heat. I thought of the post about the stained-glass window.

    Next I needed to buy my own personal roll of YEL Fluoro Gaff tape, as that's a color I don't often see, and every tool I own has either, or both: yellow spray paint/yellow e-tape on it. One roll 2"x50 yards, was $17.78 incl. sales tax. That's almost 12¢/foot! Puts things into perspective when one thinks about it that way and is using one's own money.

    I noticed the "Strong Authorized Repair Center" Certificate on the wall, which led to a discussion of carbon-arc super troupers, at which point X said "You must meet Y." Y and I chatted for almost 1.5 hours, and I learned more than I would have in a month of college classes. He wanted to show me his new Strand ClassicPalette, but I had to run other errands, besides, I know all about it from [user]Gafftaper[/user].

    The moral of this long-winded story is...Make friends with your local Theatrical Supply House. They can and will save your posterior someday. They are a wonderful, often overlooked, resource. Since they sell the equipment, they often also have the latest inside information on the newest available jobs in town. And usually they're fun people to talk with, and learn from, for free! (Plus the price of a roll of g-tape). You can't get that kind of personalized service from a stranger over the Internet, even if the prices are lower.
     
  2. Charc

    Charc Well-Known Member

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    You no longer need me for your LENE fix. :rolleyes:

    I can definitely see where you are coming from Derek, but you're preaching to the choir.

    I've now been to my local theatrical supplier about a half dozen times, most within the last month. Jason recognized me last few times I was there, and asked if I was still with "Z" Theatre Company. He also seems more than happy to converse for few minutes.

    Derek, was this an errand for work, or for yourself? Regardless, someone was paying "Y" 1.5hrs pay to talk to you. I hope your venue is a good customer of that shop.
     
  3. icewolf08

    icewolf08 CBMod CB Mods

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    I get my local dealer free tix to each of our shows. I find that I can never go down to the shop without spending way more time than I should there. The owner and the rest of the staff are great to work with, and they are very knowledgeable. They try to get in good demos, a couple months ago they had an HES demo with the Road Hog, Showgun, and DL2.

    It is invaluable to have a good relationship with your local guys!
     
  4. derekleffew

    derekleffew Resident Curmudgeon Senior Team Premium Member

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    This was a personal errand on my own time, but I wanted to pick up some swag for the kids in the class. Best I could do was Lux Swatchbooks, I know they'd rather have T-shirts, but we get enough of them working concert Load-Outs. (You only get a shirt IF you work the load-out, as most tours color code the depts).

    As to "someone was paying Y for 1.5 hours," I've found that most repair people would rather talk with anyone than do his 500th repair of the same problem on a moving light, which is exactly what I "interrupted."

    As a matter of fact, my venue/property/corporation is NOT what I would consider a good customer. For any purchase over $500, the purchasing dept. must bid it out. I can select up to three preferred vendors, but purchasing also searches nationally for the best price including shipping. Our local vendors know and understand this, and are nice to us anyway. Those "under $500" sales do add up, after all.

    Charc: Just because you're a member of the choir, does not make you the entire choir. Remember, "there's no 'i' in choir." Oh wait, yes there is; nevermind.
     
  5. len

    len Well-Known Member

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    I try to buy locally, and I do a lot of rental business with one place. But I also buy a lot (relatively) from Bill at ESC because he knows a lot and can offer great advice. Besides which, he usually has a joke to tell.
     
  6. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    I used to relish my (while in school) 120 mile trips to one retailer in Chicago if for nothing else but a template or something similar. Would spend an hour or more with similar great sales people and avoid the other three main shops because they were not as personable or lax in spending time with the customer. General sales theory I think, similar to how it seems as if Rosco has gel in all school theaters. Get them early in getting life long customers or service them and get them out the door. The home center is different than the theater supplier but not in how they do it for all. (Granted pricing is a separate subject.)

    Used to be stools in front of the counter for customers, lots of free pamphlets and swatch books on display to help yourself with, and as long as you wished to communicate with that sales rep. this was why I went there. Still have a favorable opinion of them out of that sense even if later I tend to dislike any of the local suppliers due to the sales staff limited knowledge beyond the basics.

    Still I think a great show room you can browse, with tools to buy, stuff to tinker with and free stuff to fill up a bag with is the optimum in getting life long customers. This beyond sales staff that will spend as long as needed with the customers even if already recognizing a limited sales potential - this at least in the near future. A customer should look forward to chatting with their sales rep the same as I now chat almost daily with lamp manufacturers and distributers in keeping me happy and educated and me the same with them in keeping them informed.

    On the other hand, I’m glad I don’t work at a sales counter - got rejected from one job in the past from it, probably for the best. Glad I don’t even do sales when I can help it where I currently work - don’t have the time. On the other hand when it is more than “and this is the ‘You need what’ department” while on a tour of the shop, our sales people frequently try to push the client past my department. This otherwise they will be twiddling their thumbs while I get a chance to talk with the civilians for an hour or more in telling and showing them step by step how to do what ever it is they are doing. To some extent of course classes are not free if the sales people can help it, on the other hand they pay for our experience - this either us doing it for them or in some theory of us showing them how to do it properly and not always being cheapest in prices for the parts.

    Yep, most of the time I don’t even get the recommendation and theory of what the heck are you selling FEL lamps for in past the sales person. On the other hand, if Osram only made a 500w aluPAR 64 lamp (still TBA I think) we might have gotten a sale in it in the sales person listening to what was a good concept in lamp, cheaper dependant on the lamp and possibly free for the play test to the client. Still the sales person now knows about such lamps and that’s an improvement.

    Sales people are not for the most part paid sufficiently to know all about the market and tech. They might seem advanced but for the most part I find often lack in overall knowledge or they would not be working a sales counter. Hard to stay apprised on both old and new tech in all forms - near impossible I would think. Still a good sales person, hold onto and ask for. Been thru many good and patient sales people working for Altman thru TMB. Often a sales person moves on and you have to start over. Could be good or bad dependant upon if your face has gotten to a corporate dart board or not yet. Mine is on a few corporate dart boards and even got to a few more this past week.

    Fully agree with the concept of rather chat with a live person than deal with the 500th repair or in my case inspect the 30th lamp of the day. Shouldn't matter how large the client if even those newer or less in account disserve more time but that's also why I don't do sales. Possibly also somethign about we get our lamps at X price... we could sell them at Y price and still beat out the rest of the compitition... no that would piss them off and we still need them, plus there is the concept of selling for our service above and beyond a set ratio for cost... yep, not ready for sales even if years of experience with it in similar fixed ratios. This much less not enough time in the day to do sales an the other two jobs I have during the day - lamps/fab. But would love to chat with people on tech and help them to the best of my extent. This all given even I'm limited, couldn't even begin to tell the difference between a I-Wash and Mac 2K other than in checking my notes for lamp type and differences in them.
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2008
  7. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
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    Don't forget to play nice with manufacturer's reps also.
    Most of us don't bite.(I hope)
    We can make things happen that some of you only dream about.

    For instance I'm going to Richmond, VA next week with a line array and bunch of trap boxes for a Roadshow type event.
    (Which BTW is completely open, though RSVP's are appreciated)
     
  8. ship

    ship Senior Team Emeritus Premium Member

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    In my case, always honest and telling you what I really think which gets me into trouble. Gee, you want to return these lamps yet said what just a day earlier...

     
  9. avkid

    avkid Not a New User Fight Leukemia

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    Occupation:
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    Most reputable companies appreciate honest feedback, no matter how much it may sting.
    I realize that some of the "sales monkeys" out there have no clue as to what you a as a real world user expect in the field and just give up when you say that you're unhappy.
    I would rather see a potential client walk away educated with some literature and happy thoughts than see somebody impulse buy something they have no clue how to use.
    Inevitably, their inexperience or inability to use the product comes back to rest on "that guy" who sold it to them.
    Numbers are second only to people.
     

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