I have posted before how I was frustrated with National Camera. I have stopped using them. I fugured that I was going to be a purely online buyer until I found out about a store in Minneapolis called West Photo.
West Photo is a whole different deal. For one thing, this is a store for photographers. Staffed with photographers, selling gear to phtographers. They even had a couple of people out at the MN Strobist event I was at.
I have been there a couple of times now, and while I wish they were open later or on weekends, I am glad I went. I¬†was surprised that their prices are right in line with Amazon and others. I am willing to pay a bit more (don’t forget the tax) to buy from a local store, but there are limits to the price difference I can handle. West Photos prices fall in my range.
The staff here also understand, use, and shoot with the photography equipment they sell. They had no problem telling me what they use and comparing it with other gear in their store. Real world experience counts for something.
They have lighting equipment out the wazoo. If you want to look at something and have knowledgeable people talk to you about it without sounding bored, this is the place.
If you drop by, tell Kyle or Jenn I sent you.