Who are these guys?
And where do they get all of this stuff?
Oddly enough, even though we've been around more than twenty five years, more and more folks find us every week and quite a few of you have the same questions. We thought we'd try to address some of the FAQ's such as "Who are you guys?" and "Where do you get your stuff?" What follows is a brief overview of our operation, an introduction to ourselves and a hint at who we are, a bit of our history and how we got here.
This page was first put up when I made the site. People have joined us, others moved on. I will try and keep this a bit more up to date.
There are now four of us, varying from full-timers to part-timers. Full-time to us means pretty much just that -- we're essentially here unless we have to be somewhere else. We'll talk about where's "here" a little later. Our work week isn't very well defined, but chances are that at least one of us is here from ten-ish to pretty late, more often than not seven days a week. Most of our business transactions are carried out by email although a fair number of you prefer the personal touch of the phone.
We are geared towards email and our goal is to provide turnaround within a day. We no longer have mail pick-up on weekends, so we try to have that ready for Monday morning. We also try and answer questions within a day, but sometimes we get really swamped (we prioritize getting paid orders shipped) or it's a really tough question, it takes a little longer than that.
The Current Cast of Characters.
Right now, there are four of us: Mike Otto, Rindy Otto, Don Anderson, and one other person who is either a very private person, or he doesnít want to be associated with us. I guess I'll start with me.
I'm Mike Otto. I'm one of the founders of the company. I write most of the stuff you see on the website, and am responsible for the website design and construction, good and bad, so you can blame me for the spelling errors, poor grammar, inaccurate facts, non-working links and long-winded sentences. For the moment, I am also the one of the people who catalogs the inventory, so I guess you can also blame me for flaws in grading, misidentified items and prices you don't agree with. I also handle most of the questions about collectible cameras. And I usually get stuck packing things that no one else wants to...
My first area of collecting, once I got past the "want to collect everything" stage, was colored cameras, folding and box. I sold them during the course of my divorce, and now collect Canon FL and early FD cameras. I used to also like vintage Minolta, with a few odd Mamiya and Yashica thrown in for fun, but I am slowly purging my collection.
Rindy Otto is our vice president of whatever needs done. She handles orders on the weekends, takes pictures when Don is off and does a lot of the things I donít want to do, like accounting. She can type faster than I can think. She does a lot of the little things that keep us going and helps make this a happy place. She also happens to be my daughter.
Don Anderson is our photographer. If you see great looking pictures on our site, Don probably took them. The ones that are not so great...you can blame me. On weekends, he answers email questions and helps with orders, packing and shipping.
Josh Couser, my grandson, sometimes helps in packing by opening the peanut dispenser.
A Short History of Pacific Rim Camera
In high school my intention was to become a professional photographer. I got sidetracked into printing and eventually found myself in the prepress area. I began collecting cameras when I was still entry level in the trade (read poor) and newly married (read poor again). Camera collecting was a bit rich for me at retail at this point. I can remember agonizing over my first camera book purchase. The price guide was $10, which represented another camera for my collection. As I worked nights and had Fridays off, I began buying at garage sales. I could never find the cameras I wanted, but found deals too good to pass up on cameras I didn't really like. I tried trading, but that didn't work so well. I decided to sell the ones I didn't want. I decided to put out a list of cameras for sale, advertised in Shutterbug magazine.
Somewhere along the line, I had met two of Salem's other camera collectors, Dale Lampson and Vern Augustine. I offered to sell cameras for them on my list, as they had many more interesting items than I did, and I wanted the list to be interesting enough that people would send for it more than once. They both accepted, and the catalog was born. Dale and I happened to meet one morning at an estate sale, and rather than compete with each other for the cameras, we decided to buy them jointly. We strained our bank accounts, Dale was late returning to work and I was late taking my son to preschool, but the partnership started that day. Within months we merged our resources and created Pacific Rim Camera. Vern elected not to join the partnership, and became our customer, our supplier and remained our friend. Unfortunately, he has passed away. We continued to buy and sell by mail through our catalog, and at camera shows. We began to travel to distant lands to do camera shows, to exotic places like Cleveland.
My first camera show outside the Pacific Northwest was in San Jose, the first summer show they had ever held (previous to that it was one show a year- weren't those the days!) It was a huge success, and soon we were traveling to New York, Miami, Boston, Dallas, Chicago, and Pasadena. Eventually it grew to the point we knew one of us was going to have to do this full time. I was ready to make the plunge when the federal government offered to pay Dale not to come to work anymore. They were having a reduction of force, the beginning of the peace dividend, so they offered him an early retirement. He started doing this full time; the inventory was in his basement, so he could essentially work at home.
We got on the Internet, and the business continued to grow at an astounding rate. Apparently we were doing things right! Eventually it was my turn to abandon gainful employment to pursue this full time, and it was a tough decision. At this point I had gone through a divorce and was now a single parent of two children who were soon to be teenagers. Try as I might, I couldn't get my employer, the State Of Oregon Printing Division, to pay me to leave. I did manage to get two months leave without pay, and, well, here I am now, a couple of years later (my kids are now teenagers), never having to turn burgers to make ends meet.
Over the years, we have outgrown Dale's basement, moved the business to a rented three bedroom house, outgrew that, and bought a commercial building.
In 2004 Dale retired to live the good life, traveling both the world and the US. He stops in occasionally for a cup of coffee.
In the past, we have maintained a low profile locally as we have done all of our business by mail. We tried opening a small retail shop in the front of our building, but it didnít really work out. We do allow visitors, and if you happen to be in the area, do stop in and say hi. If you want to see something in particular, we can pull it out and show you, but we are not really set up for browsing.
Many of you often ask whether we have any additional stuff that isn't on our website. The best answer really is "No." While we do often have stuff that has not been inventoried, we rarely know what it is or where. We don't sell except online, so w emake every effort to have everything we know we have available in our catalog.
Where do you get your stuff?
As to where we get all of this stuff, well, this is the equivalent to asking about state secrets -- if we told you we'd have to kill you. Actually, it comes from everywhere. We're not proud, we'll do whatever it takes. We go to camera shows, buy from stores, buy from people who contact us through the net, basically anywhere and everywhere. We try to get fair prices for what we sell, and pay fair prices when we buy. We strive for repeat customers to which we sell, and also repeat suppliers from which we buy. One of us, who shall remain nameless (except that he has retired) has even dug stuff out of the trash. It helps that we all love what we do and spend most of our waking hours here, to the detriment of personal hygiene, automotive maintenance, and social life.
That about sums it up. Ok, I was exaggerating about the personal hygiene thing - the building does have bathroom facilities and we all bathe regularly. But the rest of it stands . . .