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Why Leica Is Opening So Many Stores

The pricey camera maker hopes the boutiques will boost demand
Why Leica Is Opening So Many Stores
Photograph by Chinafoto Press/Getty Images

Selling a $27,000 camera is no snap—especially when that hefty price doesn’t even include the lens. For Leica Camera, the challenge is compounded by the fact that it has lost more than a third of its U.S. dealers, who have fallen victim to competition from the likes of Best Buy and Costco Wholesale. So at a time when an increasing number of brands are bolstering their ability to sell online, the German camera maker is rolling out its own stores to woo serious photography buffs.

Leica’s first U.S. outlet opened in Washington, D.C., last month, and the company is rolling out two more stores in Miami and New York this summer. By March 2016, Leica says its current roster of 37 stores will have grown to 200 worldwide. They’ll stock a range of models from the entry-level $700 V-Lux 40 point-and-shoot camera to the top-of-the-line $27,000 S2. “It is a high-risk strategy,” says Walter Loeb, president of retail consulting firm Loeb Associates. “Leica needs to establish itself more directly in the U.S., but it’s a small market for high-priced cameras, and it’s highly competitive.”