If you have a business that depends on sales, you can try and sell everything to everybody, like Walmart. But seeing there’s almost no way on earth you can compete with Walmart, you need to come up with a more niche approach.
Having a unique product and finding people who need it is the pathway to success. Supply and demand. Simple enough, right? Well, it might have been, when that meant opening a store on main street. Or buying an ad in the Yellow Pages. (If you’re under 40 you’re going to have to Google “yellow pages” – and even then it probably won’t make sense.)
Peter’s guests on Out to Lunch are both in fields that have been upended by technology: photography, and book sales.
Amazon rewrote the rules on how people buy books. And the smart-phone and Instagram have turned everybody into a photographer. Within these crowded spaces, both of my guests, Olivia Grey Pritchard and Candice Huber, have successfully carved out their own markets.
Candice is the owner of Tubby & Coo’s MidCity Bookshop. It’s been around since 2014. If you’re saying, “What? I live in New Orleans and I’ve never heard of it,” it might just mean you don’t read the kind of books they sell. Tubby & Coo’s describe themselves as a “Local, queer-owned, progressive, nerdy, independent bookshop focused on science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, queer, and diverse books”.
We’ve talked here before about how the career of professional photographer has been battered by the extraordinary number of amateur photographers in the world – everybody who owns a cell phone – and the ease with which photographers’ work is stolen off the internet.
Olivia Grey Pritchard has figured out a way to succeed as a photographer in this tough environment. Part of Olivia’s success is centered on educating other photographers on how to run a successful photography business. She teaches online classes and conducts mentoring sessions for professional photographers.
And in her own photography work, Olivia delivers more than just digital files of photos. If you hire Olivia to be your photographer, you end up with a piece of framed wall art, an archival-quality photo album, or a unique family movie.
As a consumer, it’s frustrating to look for something you want, and not be able to find it. Since the Covid pandemic gave rise to an inexplicable labor shortage, and choked supply chains, almost everybody has had a taste of this kind of frustration. But for some people, this frustration has been going on for a lot longer. If you’re a person who has a particular taste in books and you can never find quite what you’re looking for, Tubby & Coo’s MidCity Bookshop is a refreshing oasis. And, in a world where we’re bombarded by images that only last a fraction of a second before we swipe or scroll them away forever, being able to have a photo of your family, yourself, or even your dog, that’s good enough to frame and hang on your wall is equally refreshing.
Out to Lunch is recorded live over lunch at NOLA Pizza in the NOLA Brewing Taproom. Photos by Jill Lafleur.