Heaven for shopaholics

New York’s the best city by far for a binge on almost everything. Whatever your choice, you’ll most likely find it bigger and better in the Big Apple, particularly when shopping, so to check out the latest and greatest in cameras I ride the subway to Manhattan’s west side, get off at 34th Street and walk a couple of blocks to 420 Ninth Avenue.

Anyone with an interest in photography will instantly recognise this address as the location of B&H Superstore.

B&HThis electronics behemoth occupies an entire city block, with 6,500 square metres of display space stocked with just about everything imaginable related to images and sound.

I’m like a kid in a sweet shop. I just can’t make up my mind. Do I head upstairs to photography right away, or do I first check out all the techno-goodies spread before my eyes on the ground floor?

Instant gratification wins the day, so I spend the next 40 minutes or more immersed in a world of portable entertainment, simply having fun messing about with stuff I have no intention of buying. I sample an ear-bashing brace of headphones, fiddle with professional audio and video gear, peer through binoculars and telescopes, assess home theatre systems and LED screens.

The photo department is more like a Photographic Expo than a city store display. Each brand of camera has its own dedicated kiosk manned by experts. I’m encouraged to pick up and handle whatever I want, so of course I spend ages doing just this. Prices are much lower than at home, as I expected, but most amazing of all is this sheer volume of choice. 

Leica S2-P littleAlong with apparently every photographic accessory ever invented, there are more cameras and lenses than I can possibly count, from the cheapest point-and-shoot to the top-of-the-range “in my dreams” Leica. 

As the B&H promo video suggests, I am now “discovering what a product range really looks like”. It’s precisely this experience that entices 5000 eager shoppers through the store’s front doors every day … or so they say.

My advice is simple. Just don’t go on a Saturday. B&H is owned by Herman Schreiber and he and most of his employees are observant Hasidic Jews, so the store closes 2pm Friday and reopens at 10am on Sunday.

Take an interactive look around the store for yourself