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Equipment & Techniques => Pro Business Discussion => Topic started by: NickyTaylorphoto on January 09, 2013, 11:38:59 am

Title: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: NickyTaylorphoto on January 09, 2013, 11:38:59 am
Another big chain bites the dust.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20958659 (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20958659)

Just as I thought the world was coming out of the recession.

:'(
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Chairman Bill on January 09, 2013, 11:59:16 am
'Tis a shame. We'll be left with just a London Camera Centre shop in Taunton. Lack of competition isn't going to be a good thing.

I've made a point of supporting local shops, even where they are chain-stores, rather than on-line vendors. My camera/lens purchases have been from LCC, Jessops, Grays of Westminster, and nothing on-line. I suspect too many people use Jessops to look over a camera, then purchase from the interwebz. Additionally, the demise of film has reduced much of the turnover too.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: NickyTaylorphoto on January 09, 2013, 12:08:37 pm
My go to store for the last few years when in london has been london camera exchange (http://www.lcegroup.co.uk/) a family owned business on the strand. Although I think they may have grown a lot in the last year or so.

Jessops was great while going to college to get my ilford paper and liquid emulations. 
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rhossydd on January 09, 2013, 12:39:08 pm
Just as I thought the world was coming out of the recession.
I don't think the recession is fully to blame in this case.
Jessops have been on the edge since internet retailing became widely available.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on January 09, 2013, 01:05:09 pm
They didn't try that hard to be honest, never were competitive, over the past 5 years the service has been awful in general.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 09, 2013, 01:48:40 pm
I suspect that it's not really Jessops to blame, but more a general decline in consumer interest for higher-grade photography. One lass interviewed in the street, on the news today, said that she gets perfect photographs from her iphone... what can you say? Were I not interested in print and selling, then I'd stick with my Samsung cellphone too. For Internet and most general stuff, especially note-taking, it's perfect. What more does anyone need?

I doubt any local photographic shop could now long survive from just the average amateur in the average town. The small Scottish specialist who used to supply all my Nikon and Hasselblad equipment (he also handled Leica) eventually found himself forced out of 'blad because, according to him, he coudn't get new cameras from them at the prices people in London could retail at! That's not right; any lower prices when buying from chains should come from their internal savings from economy of scale, not because they can buy cheaper from source than the small man selling exactly the same item. It stinks. The business eventually had to go downmarket, and now it's long gone. Great. In Palma de Mallorca, my wholesaler, a branch of a larger Barcelona company, has folded after 30 years that I've known and used them.

I think what we really see today isn't business, but the jungle.

Rob C
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: jeremypayne on January 09, 2013, 01:58:16 pm
he coudn't get new cameras from them at the prices people in London could retail at! That's not right; any lower prices when buying from chains should come from their internal savings from economy of scale, not because they can buy cheaper from source than the small man selling exactly the same item. It stinks.

Nope ... what would REALLY stink would be any kind of attempt to legislate or regulate prices like you are suggesting.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 09, 2013, 02:12:10 pm
Nope ... what would REALLY stink would be any kind of attempt to legislate or regulate prices like you are suggesting.




Well, that's your opinion and mine is different. I happen to like level playing fields.

Rob C
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rhossydd on January 09, 2013, 02:19:58 pm
They didn't try that hard to be honest, never were competitive, over the past 5 years the service has been awful in general.
This sort of comment is part of their downfall, people on the internet talking them down.

The last digital camera I bought came from Jessops, I might have been able to get it a few quid cheaper online, but if it had a problem needing return  I would have been out of pocket on the cost of returning it.
A friend bought his D800 from the Windsor branch last week, maybe he could have saved a little by buying online but he liked the idea of buying genuine UK stock and not having to wait around for couriers etc.

Sure service in the shops can be variable, but there are some also very helpful and knowledgeable people behind some of the Jessops counters. I feel very sorry for them if they'll loose their jobs. Compared to some other retail sectors I think Jessops staff and service was quite satisfactory.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: jeremypayne on January 09, 2013, 02:26:41 pm
Well, that's your opinion and mine is different. I happen to like level playing fields.
Rob C

So you never negotiated the prices for your services?

If you did a small, one-off job for one client did that automatically determine the price you would charge someone who gave you 50% of your annual business for 5 years?


Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: RFPhotography on January 09, 2013, 06:30:03 pm
Socialism has never been, and never will be, a good business model, Rob.  There are all kinds of reasons why volume discounts are offered.  Those economies of scale you talk about apply at the manufacturer/wholesale level just as at the retail level.  Why shouldn't it be OK for manufacturers/wholesalers to pass those savings on but it is all right for retailers?
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rhossydd on January 10, 2013, 02:07:13 am
It may be worth pointing out the obvious here. It's not just about selling price of big items. As Jessops were the biggest UK photographic retailer, they were capable of buying in the greatest bulk and negotiating the lower wholesale prices.
It's all to do with overheads and profit.
It's easy for a couple of guys to rent an office and set up as a discount box shifter, utilising fast couriers to ship direct from wholesalers to customers without the product ever actually being in their hands. It's also very much easier now to do personal imports from outside the UK that avoid UK tax.

The somewhat ironic point here is that Jessops came to prominence in the 1970s as a discount mail order operation which the UK's photographic retailers found very difficult to compete with. As the shops struggled, Jessops bought them up to build up to where they are(were?) now.

Unfortunately Jessops, like other specialist retailers, have been caught by change in the public buying habits. The ease of shopping around and finding the cheapest price by the internet for major items and mass market electronic products now sold in the local supermarket.
The market for bread and butter products of photographic retailing are now shopping trolley items, film(memory cards), printing, batteries and low end cameras. Most camera shops relied on these lower value, high volume, high margin items to keep afloat, with that revenue stream gone, they're stuffed.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Ben Rubinstein on January 10, 2013, 03:26:18 am
This sort of comment is part of their downfall, people on the internet talking them down.


In which case it was richly deserved. They had some of the best buying power in the UK but were never ever competitive. Jacobs always had better prices and so did my local pro shop. Warehouse Express ate their lunch and deservedly so. I gave my business where possible to my local shop, My money still went to a UK retailer but not one trying to rip me off, one of the workers there was ex-Jessops and had little praise to give. I used to do my wedding printing at a Jessops shop where I knew the guy running the machines, he had 20 years experience and really knew his stuff. His opinion was that management were using the Jessops name to play with the share prices and were very happy to run the shops into the ground.

Their downfall was due to democracy, the public chose not to be ripped off any longer helped by the fact that due to the internet they could now find out just how much they were being ripped off. Fine with me. I'm sorry for the employees as well as the employees at Jacobs (also went bust recently) who always seemed far better informed and polite but have zero pity for the management who have lost them their jobs.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 10, 2013, 10:00:07 am
Socialism? Me? Good grief, you guys have no idea of what you speak: I hate where that concept has led Britain.

But making comparisons with one small snapper (myself) and the rate for my work which, as ever, is always different job to job because I donít do the same thing twice, has nothing to do with the shifting of thousands of identical products in boxes, which is what new cameras are. False analogy for you chaps to have made.

Youíre probably too young to remember, but in the mid-sixties, prices for a Hasslblad 500C were standard across the board: the thing was about 320 pounds or so anywhere you went in Britain; it even said so on the ads! Clearly, the sensible thing was to buy from the local man who was always there to return anything that might be faulty (never happened to me in those days, from Nikons to Hasselblads), was there when routine servicing was thought necessary and there was no need to package like for a moon shot, worry about postage etc. because heíd do all of that or handle it via the H rep, everything insured.

We have lost a helluva lot of caring people who were absolutely there to help us, because in so doing they were helping themselves. I miss things like that. Itís not just cameras: itís endemic in life now: nobody cares a fig for anyone else Ė itís greed, self and bugger the rest. Maybe thatís the socialism of which some speak?

The current sense of Ďbargain huntingí should stay rooted in Christmas Sales and never intrude into the normal aspects of real, everyday life where service, quality and dependability count. In the end, we get what we deserve: cameras that are rubbish from the first click, lenses that donít focus, batteries that die after fifty shots. Thatís the bright and brave new world some have wished upon us. You canít drive prices ever downwards and not see something, somewhere, have to collapse. Everything needs margins that allow it to function.

The abolition of retail Price Maintenance was a frigginí disaster waiting to happen, which it did.

Rob C
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 10, 2013, 10:08:38 am
In which case it was richly deserved. They had some of the best buying power in the UK but were never ever competitive. Jacobs always had better prices and so did my local pro shop. Warehouse Express ate their lunch and deservedly so. I gave my business where possible to my local shop, My money still went to a UK retailer but not one trying to rip me off, one of the workers there was ex-Jessops and had little praise to give. I used to do my wedding printing at a Jessops shop where I knew the guy running the machines, he had 20 years experience and really knew his stuff. His opinion was that management were using the Jessops name to play with the share prices and were very happy to run the shops into the ground.

Their downfall was due to democracy, the public chose not to be ripped off any longer helped by the fact that due to the internet they could now find out just how much they were being ripped off. Fine with me. I'm sorry for the employees as well as the employees at Jacobs (also went bust recently) who always seemed far better informed and polite but have zero pity for the management who have lost them their jobs.



That's fanciful, Ben! Just think about it: how does anyone know what the 'right' price might be? With all the different buying prices from the manufacturers for the same product that your side of the argument espouses, there can be no 'right' price. It's a contradiction. Nothing to do with democracy at all.

Rob C

P.S. As for believing anything an ex-employee has to say about company policy and shareholders, that's even more fanciful.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: jeremypayne on January 10, 2013, 10:21:30 am
Itís not just cameras: itís endemic in life now: nobody cares a fig for anyone else Ė itís greed, self and bugger the rest.

Rob ... I've said it before, I'll say it again ... what has changed far more than the world is YOU.

You suffer from the worst case of "Golden Age" syndrome I've ever seen.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Jim Pascoe on January 10, 2013, 10:35:40 am
I have always spent my (substantial amounts of) money at local retailers and rarely online for cameras.  Back in the 90's I used Jessops a lot and they seemed very geared up to the professional and enthusiast market.  The staff were knowledgable and prices competitive.  Then at some point in the digital era, they decided to expand massively the number of stores and jump on the compact camera market.  In some towns they had two stores.  They also changed ownership and floated on the Stock Market.  Instead of the shops being there for the enthusiast photographer, they were selling mass stocks of relatively cheap cameras to Joe public.  Joe public does not care excessively about long term service when price comes into it and gradually more were buying online.  So in my opinion Jessops as a business became too greedy, expanded trying to make more profit, and then fell flat on their faces when the market for compact cameras started drying up.  More recently I perceived them trying to attract the enthusiasts again, but too late - they have found other dealers (in my case the London Camera Exchange).  This is no criticism of the shop staff who are often very good, just the way the people pulling the strings have destroyed the chain.
I feel sorry for the staff but no sympathy at all with the business.  I understand that businesses need to make a profit - I run one myself.  But it was greed and a belief in rapid growth that bought this one down.  It was unsustainable.

This is just the way I see it - I stand to be corrected if I completely misunderstand the situation.

Jim
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: RFPhotography on January 10, 2013, 11:49:14 am

Youíre probably too young to remember, but in the mid-sixties, prices for a Hasslblad 500C were standard across the board: the thing was about 320 pounds or so anywhere you went in Britain; it even said so on the ads! Clearly, the sensible thing was to buy from the local man who was always there to return anything that might be faulty (never happened to me in those days, from Nikons to Hasselblads), was there when routine servicing was thought necessary and there was no need to package like for a moon shot, worry about postage etc. because heíd do all of that or handle it via the H rep, everything insured.

Rob C


Yeah, they've got a term for that.  It's called price fixing.  It's illegal.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Chairman Bill on January 10, 2013, 11:58:41 am
Yeah, they've got a term for that.  It's called price fixing.  It's illegal.

Strange then that I must pay the same price for my newspaper, wherever I happen to buy it.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Craig Lamson on January 10, 2013, 12:58:46 pm
There are exceptions. Price fixing is still legal for some markets including newspapers. Thankfully photographic equipment isn't one of them.

Except you can buy the same newspaper at different price points, at least where I live in the US.  Even the PUBLISHER sells them at different price points.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: jeremypayne on January 10, 2013, 01:04:10 pm
You really think Rob has changed more than the world?

The world has changed, of course it has.

The fallacy and delusion is the notion that the past was idyllic and the present is a fall from grace.

Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: jeremypayne on January 10, 2013, 02:45:02 pm
... I still can't understand your contention that Rob has changed more than the world.

I think I mispoke on that.

The world has changed a lot, but not in a uni-directional "it used to be a good place and it isn't anymore" fashion.

What hasn't changed is human nature.




Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: stamper on January 11, 2013, 04:30:38 am
In Glasgow  - Scotland - on Sauchiehall street Jessops had three stores at one time - and another two elsewhere in the city - within a five minute walk. That is is now two stores. Briefly there was a Jacob's store in between them. Comet's store - now deceased - was nearby. Apart from that one small independent about a mile away is all that is left that I know about. Sad times. :o
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Chairman Bill on January 11, 2013, 05:35:50 am
Jessops was offering 0% interest over 12 months on purchases above a certain amount. Which is pretty good. Except that you can currently get up to 17 months at 0% on a credit card, and pay less for your purchase on-line. Difficult to compete in today's economic climate.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: stamper on January 11, 2013, 05:47:04 am
Queues. I was in one in a Jessops store. The person at the front was wanting to buy a camera. The salesman started by telling him about how the camera worked and then went on to give him a discourse on photography in general. I got served by someone else and when I departed the salesman was still prattling on. Time wasters not wanting to buy but telling the sales persons how much more they knew about photography than them was a problem. I have spent thousands in the store as well as the internet. They are needed and will be missed. :(
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 11, 2013, 08:25:07 am
Queues. I was in one in a Jessops store. The person at the front was wanting to buy a camera. The salesman started by telling him about how the camera worked and then went on to give him a discourse on photography in general. I got served by someone else and when I departed the salesman was still prattling on. Time wasters not wanting to buy but telling the sales persons how much more they knew about photography than them was a problem. I have spent thousands in the store as well as the internet. They are needed and will be missed. :(


Yep, and others like them too.

Rob C
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 11, 2013, 08:32:13 am
Yeah, they've got a term for that.  It's called price fixing.  It's illegal.


That may well be the case today, but it didn't use to be.

Strange, though, for a system that was apparently so flawed, many more shops existed than today, many more people had jobs in them and all the pros or amateurs who wanted stuff had it. As I say, strange.

But bless you, it's my problem: I have this Golden Syndrome, don't you know? Even, more strange, I lived the time when Golden existed. But what would I know, it's only experience, after all, of both then and now.

Rob C
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Jim Pascoe on January 11, 2013, 08:59:11 am

That may well be the case today, but it didn't use to be.

Strange, though, for a system that was apparently so flawed, many more shops existed than today, many more people had jobs in them and all the pros or amateurs who wanted stuff had it. As I say, strange.

But bless you, it's my problem: I have this Golden Syndrome, don't you know? Even, more strange, I lived the time when Golden existed. But what would I know, it's only experience, after all, of both then and now.

Rob C

It's called progress Rob.  Competition is the important thing here - open up to competition and everything will be better.  The problem is that price becomes the key indicator and service goes out of the window in many cases.  I suppose it will work out in the end, but it's just different than it used to be.

Jim
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Slobodan Blagojevic on January 11, 2013, 09:10:41 am
...open up to competition and everything will be better...

Cheaper, yes. Better? Not necessarily.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: stamper on January 11, 2013, 10:45:39 am
Visited the two Jessops stores in Glasgow today. Busy. A women asked  a salesperson which stores are closing? None was the reply. The press are stirring things up! Visited Curry's who sell cameras and very little in store. The only independent left - the Merchant city, formerly Quiggs, - had second hand stock, which is it's prime business but little new stock. All other independents - as far as I know - gone.
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 11, 2013, 11:06:44 am
Visited the two Jessops stores in Glasgow today. Busy. A women asked  a salesperson which stores are closing? None was the reply. The press are stirring things up! Visited Curry's who sell cameras and very little in store. The only independent left - the Merchant city, formerly Quiggs, - had second hand stock, which is it's prime business but little new stock. All other independents - as far as I know - gone.


Geez, that's depressing.

Franks at the Saltmarket was where I bought my Rollei TLR; I bought my first Exakta in Williamsons at Charing Cross (Leica specialist in the day) and and my second at a small Exakta specialist down London Road, somewhere, but I think they vanished too along with the cameras. My local favourite was David Deayton in Paisley, who was a Leica, Nikon and 'Blad dealer. Knew everything and helped me enormously. Gone.

You see how good lowest prices are? Maybe one day people will buy their Ferraris in boxes too. Online.

;-)

Rob C
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: stamper on January 11, 2013, 11:30:16 am
Williamsons closed about 10 years ago. I am guessing that Frank's is the same shop as Merchant city across the road from the Tron theatre?
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rhossydd on January 11, 2013, 02:21:49 pm
A women asked  a salesperson which stores are closing? None was the reply. The press are stirring things up!
According to the BBC News less than half an hour ago all Jessops stores have shut tonight for good.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20992125

Not a good start to the new year for a lot of people who worked there then :(
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 11, 2013, 02:32:49 pm
Williamsons closed about 10 years ago. I am guessing that Frank's is the same shop as Merchant city across the road from the Tron theatre?


Franks. If you're facing towards the river from the north side, Franks used to be more or less on a corner on your left. There was another camera dealer kind of diagonally across the road from Franks. Somewhere between Argyle Street and towards the Stockwell Bridge. I have an absolute blank about the Tron Theatre. I do remember the late Goldbergs in Candleriggs: did a lot of 'fashion' for them too.

I haven't been in that area for years - since Merchant City was created. Well, we did go there one night with my bro'n'lo and his wife to some restaurant for dinner. I think there was a Versace boutique nearby where his wife used to shop now and again. But it was dark, cold and right outside the restaurant a bunch of guys was sitting on the pavement holding bottles... everything gets ruined in the end, however the City Fathers try to tart it up.

Rob C

 
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 11, 2013, 02:35:47 pm
The specialist 'bricks and mortar retailers' I deal with seem to be doing very well. Take the Procentre for instance, the UK's largest rental outlet and Hasselblad, Profoto and Broncolor specialists. Great service and advice and they'll usually match or beat the online 'box shifters'.

Having said that I buy a ton of everyday popular product online at rock-bottom prices; why wouldn't I? I also buy studio ceramics and ethnic collectables online for a fraction of the price that the galleries charge; again why wouldn't I?

Horses for courses.


Hi Keith,

I looked at the Pro Centre's site some couple of weeks ago, when 500C fever was heavy upon me. Their prices are sky-high, but I guess they carry a great guarantee! They certainly lowered my temperature.

;-)

Rob C
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 11, 2013, 05:47:22 pm
Rob, I take it you're talking about used prices?

Used 500 series camera prices from reputable dealers tend to be much higher than those of private sales, but don't forget the prices are always negotiable. If I were thinking of buying used I'd pay the premium, get the guarantee but do a deal. One alternative would be to buy from a trusted seller here on LuLa. But the fact is I'd buy new, still a bargain when compared to medium format digital cameras!

Just out of interest, how did you anticipate using it?



Yes, used; is there still new 500 Series stuff being made? I thought the factory had been folded up and put away in a drawer. But then, I'd imagined the advent of the F4 meant the death of the F3, and it was only by accident I discovered that I could dump the F4 and buy a brand new F3; they'd just stopped advertising it at the time!

How to use the 500? Probably with the 50mm and the via a 750 scanner... even that would be pushing my little boat out a helluva lot! What to shoot? I think I'd perhaps try to find myself some sort of landscape genre and/or 'found' as in my cellpix; I've pretty much realised that birds are out unless I move and find some commercial outlet and I don't know if it's on the cards to do that. Could be a wise thing tax-wise for the kids, moving,  but who knows how long it could take in this cliimate, and I'm alive now. Oh - I still love square!

Just watched the start of the new series on BBC HD on Italy... art and food; beautiful stuff for both senses - I could murder some Parma ham right now! Cream crackers, ham and a little glass of chilled white. Why do I do this to myself? It's in the nature of the beast is why.

Rob C
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: stamper on January 12, 2013, 04:24:35 am
Visited the two Jessops stores in Glasgow today. Busy. A women asked  a salesperson which stores are closing? None was the reply. The press are stirring things up! Visited Curry's who sell cameras and very little in store. The only independent left - the Merchant city, formerly Quiggs, - had second hand stock, which is it's prime business but little new stock. All other independents - as far as I know - gone.
According to the BBC News less than half an hour ago all Jessops stores have shut tonight for good.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-20992125

Not a good start to the new year for a lot of people who worked there then :(

It looks as if the salesperson was putting on a brave face or hadn't been informed or telling fibs. The conservation took place about 13.00 hrs. He was vehement in delivering his statement.  :(
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Jim Pascoe on January 12, 2013, 08:03:47 am
Cheaper, yes. Better? Not necessarily.

Sorry Slobodan - that was meant to be an ironic post! :)  Not put across very well though.  I do believe competition is a good thing in general, but it does often mean the unthinking mass market takes over and it is only when something that is good has gone that it gets noticed.  For instance I belong to a local camera club and often get asked advice on buying cameras.  I usually direct them to one of the two branches of the London Camera Exchange in Southampton.  Between them they cover most types of photography and have very good staff - and their prices are very keen.  Quite a number of people will go there, look at the cameras and then order online because they can save £20 or so.  Where is the sense in that, especially when shops are facing so much pressure and if they all go we will not be able to easily compare products.  To me, one of the most important aspects of a new camera or lens is how it feels and handles and that cannot be done online.

Jim
Title: Re: Jessops camera chain in administration
Post by: Rob C on January 12, 2013, 11:52:37 am
Hi Rob, yes, the 503CW is still being sold and can be bought for less than 2,000 GBP.

Given our previous conversations my concerns would be that by comparison the V series is going to make your D700 feel like a comfortable carry-around. The price of film and availability of processing on your island could also be an issue. Then there's the ongoing question, are cameras the answer? But hey, they are lovely film cameras.

Italy Unpacked, great visuals and I particularly like the contributions from Giorgio Locatelli, but for me the pairing with Andrew Graham-Dixon seems a tad contrived. But certainly worth watching.  


Hi Keith,

I had forgotten about the film/E6 situation. Itís recently become worse, too, because my wholesaler closed down for those same reasons: not enough papers, films and chemicals sold anymore in volumes to make the branch viable. Regarding chemistry: yes, it would have to be Barcelona for processing colour (but for how long even there?)Ö b/w Iíd again do here at home. But regardless, with the wholesaler off the island, where would I be able to buy film now, and at what price?

The more I dwell on it, the more reasons for lifting my tent and going back to Britain.

Yes, regarding Ďprevious conversationsí you have touched the core issue here, and I know it only too well, however much I try to enthuse myself out of it with cheaper (read viable) genre alternatives.

At least I made a very pleasant pasta for lunch! Not home-rolled pasta, but Italian (brand) nonetheless with lots of local peppers and garlic. (At least, I think they are local, but nowadays you seem to be able to get everything all year round, and that canít be right.) Maybe that garlicís got something to do with the model famine. Sunny enough to eat it out on the terrace, but now, at a quarter to six, itís freezing cold. No, not the pasta, that vanished hours ago.

Ciao Ė

Rob C