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Buying Grip Equipment in Chicago

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Paul Kim
Buying Grip Equipment in Chicago
on Dec 5, 2013 at 4:27:39 am

Hi folks, might anyone here have any recommendations on where I could purchase grip equipment in Chicago? We're based in SW Michigan, and when ordering large items the shipping costs start to get really ridiculous.

The shipping costs for like a grip taco junior or senior cart is some $2000, the cost of the very item itself. Doorway dollys are costly to ship as well. We don't have the resources to build one ourselves, although I might have to look into it.

However, I'm hoping there might be a supplier like such in Chicago, or maybe Detroit/Indianapolis, within a few hours driving distance from us where we could take a truck in to pick one up, along with a matthews doorway dolly, etc.



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Mark Suszko
Re: Buying Grip Equipment in Chicago
on Dec 5, 2013 at 3:38:38 pm

I'm out of the loop on the grip game in Chicago these days, so I'd refer you to the Chicago and Illinois production guide web sites, or the IFO Illinois Film Office, IFO/Chicago. Their resource guide is chock-a-bloc with info.

As an aside, I recently had to ship someone a very large, (giant-scale) model airplane. The local pack n ship place wanted $500 for the job, more than the plane was worth; I asked if they were shipping the package packed inside a Concert Steinway.

We boxed it up ourselves using scrap cardboard and we used Greyhound Package Express instead; shipping the huge fuselage from Illinois to Michigan for about 80 bucks, and the wings separately for about as much. Longest allowed dimension was 81 inches, and the weight had to be under 100 pounds, but it worked out cheaper than USPS or FEDEX, both of which had costs that spiked when the box dimensions go past "normal" sizes. We looked into shipping via Amtrak but they like their boxes small and all of one type.

One other shipping option that is a little obscure is called LTL (Less Than Load). A trucking company sets up a certain delivery route with depot stops along the way, and then waits until enough consignments stack up at the first depot for those destinations to fill one truck. Then the truck goes out. This is a good option for shipping stuff like engine blocks, motor scooters, assembled equipment rack furniture, etc. anything odd shaped and heavy, that you're not in a particular hurry for, and want to ship inexpensively.

For stuff like tripods in cases and dolly track, the Greyhound or LTL options might save you money. And in theory at least, using the bus, you might get something to arrive the same day it shipped.


I wouldn't do it, myself, but I can imagine hiring someone with a van off Craig's to make a specific run for you. Cheap, yes, but how reliable?


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Erik Anschicks
Re: Buying Grip Equipment in Chicago
on Dec 5, 2013 at 7:13:47 pm

Being Chicago-based, the answer is "kinda." Ha!

If you're looking to just drive into town without prior arrangements or places you've put gear on hold (or ordered) like you could at places in LA, then no, you really can't do that. At least not if you want to have a wide selection of basically any kind of grip gear you want.

You can get SOME grip gear here off the shelf in small quantities from a lot of different places. For instance, Calumet Photo and Dodd Camera carry Matthews gear in-store, though quantities are somewhat limited. But they are both Matthews and (in Dodd's case) Avenger dealers and I'll bet you could have them order the gear from Matthews for you and then pick it all up when ready. I had them do that for me once for C-stands. You can usually find sandbags, flags/nets, a handful of stands, and baby/Jr rigging hardware to varying degrees in stores. Anything larger than that, like a taco cart you described, I don't know of a place to get one new right off the shelf, so to speak.

If you'd asked this question a couple of years ago, Helix Camera would have been my recommendation, as they had a pretty darn good grip selection. However, they sadly closed their doors earlier this year after being in business for God knows how long!

You could also try calling one of the numerous huge rental houses and see if they've got any used gear they'd be willing to part with. Good luck!


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Mark Suszko
Re: Buying Grip Equipment in Chicago
on Dec 5, 2013 at 7:29:43 pm

VEER just bought out Fletcher in Chicago, maybe there will be some stuff come up for sale out of an inventory liquidation/ reconciliation.


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Jeremy Garchow
Re: Buying Grip Equipment in Chicago
on Dec 5, 2013 at 7:50:30 pm

I'd also give Barbizon a call.

http://www.barbizon.com


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Paul Kim
Re: Buying Grip Equipment in Chicago
on Dec 5, 2013 at 10:43:02 pm

Great leads, thanks folks. I've left a message with Barbizon already and also didn't know Calumet was a Matthews dealer. Yeah, the idea was to order, drive in a truck and pick up.



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Erik Anschicks
Re: Buying Grip Equipment in Chicago
on Dec 6, 2013 at 5:27:47 am
Last Edited By Erik Anschicks on Dec 6, 2013 at 5:33:35 am

If you do Calumet, I'd suggest using their location in the western suburb of Oak Brook, rather than the ones in Chicago itself. It's about 25 minutes or so west of the city by car and outside of Cook County. As such, you'll pay less in sales tax. If it's just a few things, probably won't matter, but it can add up quick!


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