If you’re a frugal photographer who’s constantly searching for ways to save some dough when buying gear, you might want to look into the new Los Angeles-based startup company Greentoe. It’s a shopping site that’s trying to turn the e-commerce world on its head by taking pricing power from merchants and putting it into the hands of consumers.
Basically, it’s a site that lets you buy camera gear at prices you want to pay.
Here’s how it works: let’s say you want to buy a new Canon EOS 5D Mark III DSLR, which currently retails for $3,200 on Amazon and most online retailers. Find the camera on the site, and you’ll be taken to a product page with a simple field that says, “Name Your Price”:
Rather than let you blindly name any price, there’s a “See My Chances” calculator that will estimate the likelihood of you actually buying the camera at that price.
The reason the prices are always uncertain is because it’s up to camera gear retailers to decide whether or not to sell you the gear at the prices you want. Once you enter the price you’d like to buy the DSLR for, Greentoe broadcasts your offer to its “vast network of retailers.”
If any one of the retailers is willing to sell you the new gear at your stated price, then it’ll accept your offer, charge you, and ship the item directly to your doorstep. Shipping costs and taxes are already included in the price you name.
From our tests, it seems you’ll need to enter at least a “pretty reasonable” offer in order to use the system. When we tried offering $2,900 for the Canon 5D Mark III, the site displays an error saying “Sorry. Your offer is too low. Please enter a new number.”
A $2,950 offer is valid, but the gauge shows that our chances of having that offer accepted are basically nil. Here’s how the gauge responded to various offers we submitted for the 5D Mark III:
It’s not just cameras either: the site is strongly geared toward photography, with sections for P&S cameras, DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, lenses, tripods, flashes, bags, filters, and more.
While we haven’t tested the entire Greentoe process — you’ll have to trust that Greentoe connects you with a reputable retailer — the site seems like one that’s worth exploring if you’re interested in hacking $100 to $200 off the price of your next photo gear purchase.