Leica Store Wetzlar Leitz-Park opened its doors on May 22, 2014 and is located right in the middle of Leica Camera’s headquarters, the newly completed Leitz-Park. The store features a 400 square meter display area for the entire Leica product portfolio, a fully equipped photo studio and an ambiance inviting visitors to stay a while and chat with like-minded Leica enthusiasts. The store is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 – 17:00. Below, Alfred Schopf, CEO of the Management Board of Leica Camera AG shares his thoughts on the new store.
Q: What is it like for Leitz-Park to have the newest Leica store?
A: If you take a look at the building from the outside, it makes a statement. We wanted to incorporate what you see on the outside to the inside. We had the idea to create something unique, a place where you can look at the heritage of Leica and photography. It all has to fit together within the architecture. At least in Europe, and perhaps all over the world, you aren’t going to find many iconic brand stores like that besides some watch stores. It’s not about a single element either. Of course, we are proud of the store, but it’s always the combination. We want to incorporate that in all of our stores because in the end, our cameras are an instrument. You need to learn how to use it and we want to be able demonstrate that great images can be shot with such a device.
A: As long as there is enough space, all of the stores will have them. All superstores will, at least.
Q: Is the Leica Store Wetlzar Leitz-Park’s library curated by Martin Parr?
A: Not yet, but it will be in the future.
Q: You have quite an impressive library personally, don’t you?
A: The books inspire me. I like to have them around me. If my office moves, they come with me. They are like my old friends.
Q: The other day, a Porsche motorcycle was rolled into the store. Can you tell us about that?
A: That was so people can see what kinds of stuff they can photograph. The store features a full photo studio.
A: The “Fake Leica” is a hiccup. The artist who did it did a great job. The front is an analog Leica and the back is a digital Leica. I’ve seen a lot of techies approach it and complain that he butchered it but they don’t realize that it was purposeful, just to get you talking about it. Sometimes you have to ruffle some feathers.
Q: The Leica Store Wetlzar Leitz-Park has some special edition products that can only be found here. Can you comment on any of the items? Are there any that are particularly special to you?
A: We created the Leitz-Park brand and wanted to have something specific to it. That’s the idea behind it. We want to attract people to visit us in the future. We think that naming where you bought it, at the company superstore, is just a good approach. It’s a destination. It’s the birthplace of photography and we want to integrate more and more of that idea into our marketing approach. For me, it’s not that we talk about Leica history but that we talk about the history of photography. Oskar Barnack was really a genius. I mean, if you take a look into the X1, it’s 95 years after Oskar Barnack’s invention and the size is just the same. You don’t need something different. You have it in your hand and it’s a good balance. It’s quite amazing to see that. Leica is always trying to incorporate that into our work.
The special editions include four cameras, a Leica S, a silver chrome Leica M Monochrom, a Leica X Vario and a Leica X2 à la carte, and two pairs of binoculars, the Leica Ultravid 8×42 BL and 10×42 BL models with special red leather trim.
Q: Can you tease us about what might happen at photokina?
A: I don’t want to give away too much to our competitors. Our research and development team is working on some new stuff. You can expect something, but I don’t think I can remark now. All of my colleagues will get nervous.
Q: It seems like people flew in from all over the world for the Leitz-Park opening. Do you agree?
A: We are getting visitors from all over the place. The other day, the Deputy Prime Minister of Bahrain was shopping in the store. There are Leica enthusiasts everywhere!
Thank you for your time, Mr. Schopf!
– Leica Internet Team