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Place to shop for medium binoculars up to 20x

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#1 edcannon


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Posted 02 January 2004 - 07:18 PM

Today I found a very good place to shop in person for
medium-sized binoculars -- a gun store. They have
Swarovski, Leica, Nikon, Pentax, and Leupold as well as
Bushnell and maybe a couple of other brands, from 8x40 up
to a 20x60 or 22x60 size (plus compacts, of course). They
have porros and roofs and zooms. Now, if only there hadn't
been about 30 customers exercising their second-amendment
right to (buy and) keep and bear arms, I might actually have
been able to hold some of those binoculars in my hands! I
will go back in the hopes of having a chance to look through
several pair. At this time of year it might even be after
dark, and maybe they might even let me look through the
front door to see something outside.

So anyway, maybe in many people's towns there might be a
similar gun/hunters store. (Actually, this place,
McBride's, has a lot of fishing stuff and clothes as well.)
Online, I discovered that there seem to be quite a few
hunting-oriented in Germany at least.

I found this place (McBride's) by looking online at
Leupold's list of their dealers, and I thought that maybe
the store would have other brands -- and that was certainly

Ed Cannon - ecannon @ mail.utexas.edu - Austin, Texas, USA

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Posted 02 January 2004 - 09:09 PM

This follows, 'cause folks who buy top quality firearms for hunting or target shooting will also want fine optics; binos, spotting scopes & rifle/pistol scopes to go with their other equpt....also applies to night-vision and range-finders (a really great toy). There's a store called Outdoor America a couple miles from me that has the full complement of Nikon, Swarov, Zeiss, B&L, etc, plus the low-end stuff...prices a little higher than Astronomics but still not bad....must admit, tho, I've only bought shootin' irons there....so far

#3 brocknroller


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Posted 03 January 2004 - 11:08 PM

I grew up in northern New Jersey, within eyeball distance of the Manhattan skyline. If I wanted to buy a camera, I'd go to 17th Street Camera and haggle with the Hasids for the best price, or if I wanted musical equipment, I'd visit "Music Row" and get a substantial discount at a store like Manny's. I did this even though I was making much more money than I'm making now (I used to be in corporate management, now I teach).

More than a decade ago, I moved to rural Pennsylvania to get a degree at Penn State and stayed in the area. Given the paucity of shops that carry good quality bins (or good quality anything for that matter), I do most of my shopping online (actually, I buy most of my bins used, but the few I have bought new, I bought online).

However, as anyone who becomes a binocular afficando soon finds out, "seeing is believing" -- no sales hype, no expert recommendation can take the place of actually putting a binocular to your eyes and trying it out (astronomy, birding, hunting, etc.). If you don't do this, then it's a crap shoot, and you may end up sending the binocular back, paying for the return shipping, and getting charged a restocking fee (I try to avoid those stores, but it seems to becoming more common). Or worse, you may receive a poorly packed bin that's out of collimation and have the dealer refuse to refund you, but only give you store credit (stay away from Smile Photo!).

Like the members above, I have found that the "local" stores that carry the best selection of good quality bins in this area are gun shops. However, being "mom and pops," their bins cost more, often much more, than I can buy them for online. So, after driving 20 or more miles to get to the store, I will try a variety of binoculars, then say "Thank you, very much," and then go home and buy the bin from a NY camera dealer (or more often, save for a few months, then buy).

Some might question the ethics of this practice, and it pangs my conscience a bit since I'd like to support my "local" businesses (in rural PA, "local" means within a 50 miles radius), but I truthfully cannot afford to pay $100 more for a binocular or for any item.

For example, there's a camera shop downtown that had a 20X60 Pentax PCF V on sale for $265 (most of their bins are models that are 5 years or older, including this one). I can buy this bin "new" online for $100 less. If I were rich, I fantasize that I would pay the full price and support my local business, but in truth, if I were rich, I'd be buying premium bins that my local camera shop doesn't carry, and if I were rich, I wouldn't have gotten that way by throwing my money out the window, I'd give it away to a charity so I could get a tax write-off. :-)

Late last year, when Pentax was having their coupon sale, I went back to the same camera shop, and told the owner about the sale, and he offered to give me close to the same price that I would have gotten with the coupon from a NY dealer (about $30 more). This was after the bin sat unused in his store three years after I first looked at it. Guess he felt some profit was better than no profit. Unfortunately (for him), I had already bought (and returned) the Pentax from Focus Camera, because I found the FOV too narrow and it also had a defect (eyecup wouldn't stay in place). Btw, now I regret sending it back, because I tried two other samples of the same bin, and they weren't as sharp as the first one.

It never occurred to me to haggle with local business owners like I did with the Hasids, because I figured they don't buy in volume, so they couldn't afford to sell competitively with online stores (and this probably true for the most part).

How much I can afford to spend over and above the online price for the priviledge of trying out a bin in person and supporting my local community? Well, I could save $10-$15 on return shipping, and the restocking fee of $30 on a $200 bin. So for $40-$45 more, I might buy local, for $65-$75 more I'd have to think hard about becoming a philanthropist. For $100 more, forgetaboutit Clyde.

I wonder if any of you have had similar pangs of conscience by "trying local but buying virtual," and If anyone has successfully haggled with local camera or gun shop owners to get a more competitive price with online stores.


#4 KennyJ


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Posted 04 January 2004 - 06:16 AM

First of all , now I'm back from a most enjoyable 8 night break away from my PC may I wish everyone a very safe, happy and prosperous 2004.

There has been much "catching -up" to do with this and other forums I frequent -- but I'm happy to see that at least SOME things never change -- e.g our friend Frilby is still deliberating over his choice of binocular to buy :-)

As far as this topic goes , I too have spent many years experiencing tremendous guilt by visiting binocular retailers that carry a decent variety of stock -- to try to test out as many as I can --with absolutely no intention of actually buying any on the day --and in any case knowing that even if I find a model that leaves me dribbling with enthusiasm -- I would be going elsewhere to actually buy one

This is because I finally found a retailer in another town who will match his selling price to the lowest I can find on the internet from a UK retailer.

I don't know if my chosen supplier suffers slightly financially as a result of this --but not THAT may quality binoculars are actually sold week -in week out in such stores in any case --so I presume he works on the basis of any profit is better than none.

Now that I've bought a few items from this person , a certain amount of "loyalty" comes into play with me.

If for example , later this year I decide to treat myself to a top of range spotting scope for over £1000 UK , even if this guy charged me £25 more than I could get the same item for elsewhere , I would still stick with him.

Regards to all -- Kenny.

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