Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Balance and Clarity Pt. 3 – It’s a long one…


It’s been almost a year since I posted on the blog and with very good reason… this was the busiest and most productive year 2nd Shot has seen since first launched in 2013. We’ve seen high end custom projects, routine repairs, new members, custom camera sales, and met our goals for 2018 before the year end. Needless to say, (without bragging one bit) business has been good.

There’s some harsh realities when dealing with mass amounts of vintage items like the SX70 and some of them are very difficult to overcome. Parts accessibility, replacement part longevity, customer turnaround times, overhead, vendor prices, film performance, etc. This wasn’t a hobby-for-profit gig that we were going for… this was a business and I’m more than happy to say that we met our two-year business plan goals. Keeping some of these realities in mind, it’s hard for me to say that this business will be “evergreen” and I can retire off the income. It’s anything but that, especially at my age. I’m at a plateau in my life where it’s essentially shit-or-get-off-the-pot with what I want to be when I grow up. Working with this business over the last few years has taught me that.

Aside from the realities mentioned regarding the cameras that we repair, there’s also realities in my personal life that need to be addressed soon. I’m not 30 anymore, 42 actually. I grew up in the 80’s riding bikes and setting off firecrackers in the backyard. I lived the 90’s when music was angry and there wasn’t anything really to be angry about. In the 2ks I was a dad to 3 beautiful kids but chose to leave my marriage inheriting all kids of debt, child support, and all the fun shit that goes along with divorce that will push a person to the edge of anxiety and depression (I made my bed ya ya ya). 2nd Shot started from passion for the SX70 but also to fund my 800 mile trips every other weekend to see my kids. I then met my soulmate and remarried and left my day job to pursue one of my passions. I think it’s safe to say that I accomplished what I set out to do (and have a t-shirt to prove it).

So that leaves me asking myself “what’s next”. It’s a good feeling, actually. There’s a sense of adventure to asking that question. There’s excitement in uncertainty but the wiser I get, the more I approach this feeling with caution. 15 years ago, I’d say “fuck it” and dive right in to some high-risk venture… but that’s not me anymore nor what I want. 2nd Shot has been run out-of-pocket. No loans were taken nor money borrowed to do this gig. It’s a nice feeling to have zero debt when starting a business but it’s also very limiting to what you can do until you gain a vast amount of traction, which we certainly have. I’m not about to go broke taking 2nd Shot to “new levels” or be a game changer though. Let’s be open here… boutique businesses like these isn’t for the middle-aged divorcee dad with debt. I’ve worked hard to avoid wearing the “shut-in hermit that enjoys camera repair at home” mask. It’s simply a harsh reality for myself that I need to either blow out the business and face a myriad of unknown variables to sustain a long-term boutique business, or step back and consider realigning past endeavors. Plus I miss working in a social environment… I like people.

The good news is that I’m still passionate about Polaroid and the SX70… I haven’t lost the love for the medium or the machine. I’m still smitten with the slowly appearing image that is magically birthed from a little camera and the whirr of the motor. I’ve spent more time than I can imagine obsessing about reviving these machines, learning what makes them function properly, and going beyond repair manual procedure to keep them alive and out of landfills. We’ve pushed to do things differently here at 2nd Shot… much differently. And even paid a little extra money to make sure we made products that stands out or that are unique. But in order to do so, moving forward, some parts of the business need to be set aside.

I’ll speak freely here… anyone can repair a camera. Yes, anyone. If you have the right tools, a ton of spare parts, lots of patience, and an understanding of how all components of the camera work together, you can repair an SX70. The only skills needed is patience and the willingness to learn. It’s a non-subjective craft… the camera only goes back together one way and will only work if assembled properly. And the camera doesn’t have a conscious brain either. It’s not trying to trick you or make your week a living hell because it won’t work. Stabbing at it with a screwdriver and screaming that it’s broken won’t fix it… nor will asking 20 questions on social media. 20 different people will give you 20 different pieces of advice and maybe only one answer will be somewhat accurate. 99% of what you need to know is in the repair manual. The other 1% is where you have to be creative and fabricate your own parts and tools. You can’t be a “DIYer” if you depend on buying all your parts from Digikey or MacMaster Carr. Seriously… for all of the DIY repair enthusiasts, be creative and get off of your ass and dig deep to find out what makes these cameras work and what you can do to fix them.

Where the hell am I going with this?! To sum up, we’ll be wrapping up the repair side of the business effective 12/31/2018. This is good news for us as we’ll be focusing on sales of i-type modded SX70 cameras and continue product development. Each 2nd Shot camera will be fully restored and modified to use the latest and greatest batches of i-type Polaroid Originals film. We’ve found that the latest batches of color PO i-type film have been the most advanced formula yet available most likely due to the release of i-type cameras such as the OneStep2 and the OneStep+. Makes perfect sense from a business standpoint. We’re proud that we spent the time to develop a method to utilize these films with your vintage SLR SX70. Please note that all repairs will still carry the full year warranty as well.

To all customers that will be submitting a camera or already have a camera in the queue, all repair orders are scheduled to be completed by early Spring 2019. Yes, we were that backed up and sorry it took so long to fix your camera.

Effective immediately, we’ll no longer be working on any other camera models except for the SX70, SLR680, and their variants. We’ll no longer be working on 690, pack film cameras, or box style cameras. We’ll also no longer be offering customization options or custom finishes. So, if you have a custom 2nd Shot SX70, take care of that sucker. It might be worth something someday.

So there it is… This isn’t a dramatic goodbye or anything like that. We’re just shifting priorities. There’s still plenty of places you can contact to have your SX70 repaired. We’ve always been a fan of the team at Brooklyn Film Camera. Kyle runs a tight biz (follow his personal IG account too for some enlightening intellectual insight on current political events). My man Todd out at Shutter Plus Light does a great job at bringing these back to life as well and is a pretty Rock n Roll cat in my book. Be sure to choose quality over quantity. Be wary of the assembly line cameras and “flippers”. I know a lot of mechanics that have a team repair thousands of engines that run ok but I also know a few mechanics that have done a couple hundred engines themselves that are bulletproof and will last a lifetime. Yeah… more car analogies. I can do food ones too if you'd like. 

9 comments:

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  2. Hey, Matt. If you are really exiting the repairs side of your business, I would appreciate it if you would add me to your short list of SX70 repair service alternatives for your clientele. I have capacity to take up some of the slack when you exit. Hopefully you trust my work and don't consider me to be one of the "flippers" or "assembly line" fixers! :-)

    Roger Garrell (fastcat99)
    polaroidservice@gmail.com
    fastcatpolaroids@gmail.com

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