Pro video blog…Produced by Philip Johnston DoP/Editor

After 20 years on Great Western Road, in the heart of Glasgow’s fashionable West end the Glasgow Camcorder Centre  (GCC) closes it’s doors on the 23rd July 2010. From all accounts last year was a bad year financially, in fact things were so bad the shop could not continue a further year despite an upturn in business over the last two months.

I bought my first mini DV camcorder, the Sony VX-1000 during 1995 from the Glasgow Camcorder Centre…that was fifteen years ago. DV was the start of the big change both in broadcast and corporate video in fact good old broadcast as usual decided mini DV was not a broadcast standard…times don’t change nor does the snobbery within the broadcast industry.

The Glasgow Camcorder Centre was the place to go for all those nick nacks no one else bothered to stock like Sony’s 4 pin firewire cable, editing controllers, mini DV tape, standard DV tape, lens cleaners, Rycote wind jammers, Manfrotto camera plates, all sizes of batteries, AV cables, camera bags, camcorders from Sony, Panasonic and Canon.

I also bought my HDR1000 DV editing mains deck from GCC, all the boys got their kit from Bill…times were good not only for GCC but we all took to DV like ducks to water and the only place in town selling Sony DV kit was the GCC.

DV was an instant hit for the GCC and soon Queen Margaret Drive came knocking… the BBC had finally come to their senses and decided this upstart of a format (DV) was indeed good enough for broadcast work and started buying kit like it was going out of fashion, not using it for mainstream…yet…but as inserts to children’s programmes etc.

Yes those early days of mini DV brought a lot of customers to the shop and a new bigger fish was to enter…Education. With mini DV taking off it left a gap in the market for S-VHS camcorders and tape decks, no one was buying SVHS any more so it became heavily discounted and the education departments could not buy enough of the stock.

So what went wrong…firstly competition from down south, H Preston introduced part exchange, this took a lot of customers including myself and to be fair the GCC only stocked domestic and some semi Pro camcorders mainly Sony and Canon …so limiting the appeal of the professional marketplace. Another problem was that people would gleam information from the staff, buy the same model else ware saving £100 or so then go back to the shop, buy low profit accessories that the box pushers weren’t interested in stocking…a shameful practice.

The internet played it’s part with so called “companies” offering better discounts on video gear further eroding the shops appeal. Lastly the the BBC had moved away as did their business, education dried up, the internet was taking a lot of business and finally the 2009 recession came like the grim reaper destroying any 1920 x 1080 HD television sales dead in the water,…who wants to spend money on hi end televisions when your job is on the line.

Managing director Bill Forbes told me “After 19 good years of trading even the name went against us although we sell the latest LCD and plasma televisions people don’t associate the words Camcorder Centre with HD televisions”.

There are two stores one in Glasgow and one in Edinburgh, Glasgow went big on Sony/Canon and Edinburgh sell Panasonic exclusively, the Edinburgh store continues to trade as normal while the Glasgow store closes on the 23rd of July 2010.

Is their a moral to this story…DV brought GCC a new type of customer in the way of professionalism from the wedding boys to the BBC but chose to stay semi pro and prices that were not competitive even to the extent of mini DV tape. I was using a fair amount of mini DV tape in the late 1990s so price was important, Bill could not touch the price I was getting for Sony DV tape, again I was having to source from down south nor could he compete with the likes of Preston’s and their part exchange scheme.

Strangely Sony have five arms one being domestic AV sales, Bill tried in the early days to get Sony to supply semi pro camcorders like the PMW-150 but in true Japanese logic you had to buy into a far bigger slice of the pro cake and Bill could not afford to go down that road.

As DV grew up to DVCAM so the new pro customers grew tired of the GCC and went their new ways mainly purchasing from down south, I am sad to be reporting the demise of a great institution like the Glasgow Camcorder Centre and the talented staff who are to be made redundant, in fact the moral of this story is that only a good shop can keep staff for 20 years service giving out good advice on video equipment they new inside out…unlike your big mainstream electrical stores !

Just a note if you live in the Glasgow area and are looking for some bargains… Glasgow Camcorder have some Sony kit for sale like this HDV 700 player with HDMI, component, 4 pin fire wire, composite out…YC and composite inputs….Also works with L or M Sony batteries. This unit is great for ingesting mini DV/HDV footage into your computer and can record as well.


Having been working in the video business since 1988 I have amassed a great amount of knowledge of both the kit and production values over the last 30 years.

2 thoughts on “The Glasgow Camcorder Centre “The End of an Era in Glasgow”

  1. I too have made many purchases from this great store, where the staff were always so willing to share their considerable knowledge. The sad end of an era indeed – and we’ll all miss it.

  2. What a shame… Bill and his team have supplied all my gear & repairs since 1983… not only has the service been second to none, prices were excellent and the banter better, all the guys went those extra miles to supply exactly the kit needed… they will be sadly missed in our industry.. this is what happens when you buy on price not excellent customer services
    on the up side thery can be found at Haymarket Edinburgh at The Panasonic Shop….
    Mulbearys Television/ Nightowl Productions Glencoe Scotland

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