By Punch Correspondent Jason Kampf
In the heart of Washington, D.C.’s Penn Quarter neighborhood, the high end camera companyLeica, celebrated its North American Flagship Store opening with an official launch party on May 3rd.Â Being located a few short blocks from the National Portrait Gallery and the National Press Club only begin to speak to the level of planning this company undertook in opening its first store location in the United States. The two year project represents the brandâ€™s essence, as it speaks to the sophistication, detail and precision that goes into each handmade, Leica camera and instrument.
The space takes you in with the sharp red, black and white contrasting colors reminiscent of the brand. Immediately, a world of museum-like pieces emerge from glass casings and enclosed shelving outlying the perimeters of the main showroom. Drawing on similarities to a fine wristwatch, each case resembles the craftsmanship inside the clean, exact exterior of each piece held within. The similarities do not end with the finished product. Leica holds patents on over 100 different types of glass, some of which are only manufactured twice yearly for their lenses. Each Leica instrument is the legacy of handmade precision and tradition. After all, a picture is the capture, of a moment-in-time.
Why choose the nation’s capital as Leica’s stand alone store introduction to America?Â “Washington, D.C. resembles the strategic nature of Leica as a brand. The district offers Leica a chance to reach the culturally diverse citizens and large community of both professional and amateur photographers, ” says General Manager Eric Oberg. “The district is home to such a large number of press and media outlets, both the president and vice president of the United States, countless galleries, museums and monuments rich with history which attract millions of tourists and local citizens alike, making the city an ideal location for Leica.”
Marking the historic event for Leica from Germany, Chief Executive Officer Alfred Schopf and Director of Corporate Retail, Roland Wolff were also in attendance. Alongside the staff and GM, Oberg, the team proudly spoke with guests educating everyone with the history and significance Leica instruments offer. To highlight the gallery portion of the space for demonstrations and workshops through the Leica Academy, black and white photos from International Photojournalist Peter Turnley‘s “Moments of the Human Condition” were displayed. The gallery-like setting allows potential customers to really engage with the product and step away from the counter top into a bespoke setting fit for the instrument. Peter himself was there and greeted guests, spoke to his work and signed an occasional autograph. The unique space, rather larger than most of Leicaâ€™s boutiques around the world, serves to allow the customer to â€œput in the hands, see in the eyes and feel in the heart, what these products represents,â€ Oberg said.
Leica is located at 977 F Street, NW. Visitors should appreciate the tradition, architectural layout and design of the space as much as the instruments the company produces. These high-end, handmade devices come with an appropriately priced tag.Â However, despite the price, everyone can learn something from visiting the store and will have a new appreciation for photography and what goes into a camera.
***Jason Kampf serves as Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for CoVant a McLean, VA-based private equity firm. Prior to joining CoVant Jason founded several start-up ventures in the Philanthropic field as well as Software Development and Record Label. He currently works with and is a Board Member of several local small business firms and charitable organizations including The Greater Washington Sports Alliance and the Lâ€™Enfant Society.***
Pamela Lynne Sorensen is the founder of Pamela’s Punch, a leading source of information for the “who, what, when, and where” of Washington, DC’s elite social, professional, and philanthropic scene, which she founded in November of 2006. In 2012 she launched Pacific Punch, based in Los Angeles. Pamela comes from an extensive background in sales and business development from a variety of industries, has been involved with charities and fundraising for a number of years and holds several Board and leadership positions. She currently resides in Arlington, Virginia and when she’s not out on the town, she’s reading or writing while sipping fine wine, or traveling the country and the world ISO adventures, beauty, fun, food, style, libations, music, and the good life. Follow her on Twitter at @pamelaspunch.