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 three of us full-timers and one part-timer. 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 workweek 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 e-mail although a fair number of you prefer the phone and there are still a few die-hard fax fans.
Those of you who try to call us know that we don't have official business hours, but we can promise you that if we're here, we'll try to answer the phone. Unless I am already on the phone. And, I may as well confess, we are notoriously unreliable when it comes to messages left on the answering machine. Our machine answers sometime after the fourth ring. Most of our repeat customers have already figured out that if someone doesn't answer by the third ring -- to just try again later.
What's with this "try to get to the phone" stuff, you ask? Well, as I said, we are mostly e-mail oriented and on a typical day, when we first walk in, we are swamped. 100 message days are not unusual. It usually takes two of us working the Inbox (Microsoft Outlook) until mid-afternoon to get caught up with the overnight and morning mail. From around 3 o'clock on, we can usually work mail as it arrives. If we're here, we answer the phone when it rings, but quite honestly, we only get to the phone messages when or if we get a breather and things slow down -- sometimes that can take days. Don't feel bad; even our wives and kids send us e-mail when they want to leave a message.
The point is that we're geared towards e-mail and our goal is provide almost immediate turnaround. Most of our orders are filled, if not instantly, then later the same day. Once we're here, we're here and we are usually busy as heck. Consequently, most of the orders that we process during the day are almost always shipped out by Priority Mail that afternoon.
The Current Cast of Characters.
Right now, there are three of us: Mike Otto, Roger Kasner and Rindy Otto. And if we 're going to do this in order of appearance then, 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 longwinded sentences. For the moment, I am also the one who catalogs all of 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.
Roger Kasner is the new partner here at Pacrim. He formerly was NW Camera. I have known Roger for well over ten years since he first got into the business. Probably closer to twenty. He started off buying cameras at estate sales and selling them to us. His connections to the Portland estate sale and antique community have been invaluable in providing me with an seemingly endless amount of stuff to catalog. Roger knows a lot of the user film camera equipment better than I do. Roger is generally in the office Monday through Wednesday, and in the Portland area the rest of the time.
Roger has a degree in music and is an accomplished musician. He was the bass and guitar player for Napoleon's Mistress, and band leader of Diva and Heart of Darkness. He is currently the bass player for Tribe of the Outcast.
Rindy Otto is our vice president of order processing/shipping. She handles most orders, pulling them, packing them and sending off email confirmations. 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.
If you happen to hear a dog barking when you call, that would be her Chihuahua Tooties, barking at the mailman, or maybe just the air conditioner...
Ashley Ardnt is the newest member of our team. She works part time taking pictures and helping out with packing.
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 are opening a small retail shop in the front of our building, and welcome anyone who wants to drop in and look at something. Because of the amount of inventory we have, it isn't possible to set things up where you can browse everything. A small portion of our stuff will be displayed, but most anything can be brought up to the front.
Many of you often ask whether we have any additional stuff that isn't on our website. The best answer really is "No." In honesty, however, we do have many boxes of stuff that is yet to be cataloged, but whatever is out there is a mystery to us as well. And, no kidding, until it gets catalogued, it's almost the same as if it didn't exist. Now I know that may sound like it opens the door just a crack, but I'm just trying to be honest, the party line remains, "If it ain't on our website, we ain't got it."
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 do 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 . . .