Contacts: Martino Corto, Store Manager at Adorama, Inc. (New York,...

Contacts: Martino Corto, Store Manager at Adorama, Inc. (New York, NY)

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You might wait 30 minutes or so for a table at a favorite restaurant, but would you stand and wait for camera advice? At Adorama, a Manhattan camera store that’s developed an uber-loyal following over its three decades in business, customers daily line up after taking a number, waiting for a gentle computer voice (“Now serving 113 at Station 2…”) to guide them to one-on-one help. Store manager Martino Corto says New Yorkers exhibit such uncharacteristic patience because each Adorama salesperson has real-life experience in imaging.

“Our sales staff are photographers and they speak to customers like photographers,” says Corto. “They sell based on a shared passion.”

Corto has spent his ten years at Adorama coming up with countless ways to keep that passion ignited. One strategy, “don’t sell ‘em anything they don’t need,” may seem counter-intuitive at first, but Corto says if you guide new photographers with step-by-step instruction and just-right equipment, they’ll be so encouraged by the success of their images, they’ll come back for more.

“80 percent of people walk out of here with a purchase,” he says. “And 90 percent of the people who buy here come back again.”

So, how exactly does he turn first-time point-and-shooters into equipment-hungry pros? Corto says it’s a mix of good sales advice, frequent in-store seminars and a print pick-up policy which encourages customers to take their fresh pictures straight back to that advice line for one-on-one critiques. “People will ask, ‘Why didn’t this shot turn out the way I’d wanted? What did I do?’ And we’ll talk it over with them,” says Corto, who also encourages customers to upgrade their cameras through a buy-back program.

The learn-as-you-go atmosphere in the store has become contagious, says Corto, who cites the case of one store security guard who couldn’t help but overhear the conversations. “He got so into it all, that he ended up becoming a major photographer in the city,” laughs Corto. “No one does babies like he does.”

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