The Chinese copy noted above is a typical example for many industries - not just photography. Go to the trade shows and one year you see a group from China picking up sample product, and the next year they are there with a booth with their copy of those items. It is now to the point that many companies do not put sample products out on the show floor. It used to be the copied product was noticeably inferior, now you see no visible difference. With that said, I am sure there are now very cheap tripods that have the same design as that $400 model the photo store is selling. As I noted in my other post - I would look for a used model - it seems people change out their tripods with the frequency that people change golf clubs.