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Closed Camera Stores - We Miss You!
Old 01-07-2012   #1
CameraQuest
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Closed Camera Stores - We Miss You!

Perhaps I am just feeling nostalgic today,
but I realized many of my favorite camera stores are long gone.

To make matters worse, there is no place to remember them except the back issues of old photo magazines.

This new forum is to celebrate camera stores of days past, before the internet when your local camera store was your life line to the photographic world.

Maybe some of you have pics of the old stores?

Then and now shots of their old buildings?

Scans of their old ads?

Have fun remembering the Good Old Times!

Please start threads on each store!

Stephen
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Old 01-07-2012   #2
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I don't have any pics, but I sure miss Unruh's Photography Shop in Santa Rosa, CA. I bought a ton of Nikon F gear there, bought my first Rollei there, tons of darkroom supplies,etc. They once let me take a Hexar AF out for a three day try-out. Didn't buy. They showed me an M3 with collapsible 'cron, collapsible Elmar 90, and a 35 of some kind. Didn't know what I was looking at (except it wasz a Leica) and it was $1200 for the kit, so I passed. (ugh). I did finally get an M3 and 'cron. The body and the collapsible 'cron were $1200. Live and learn. I sure miss that store. Nice people, too.
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Old 01-07-2012   #3
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I have fond memories of Brooks Cameras on Maiden Lane in San Francisco... long gone, now, but not forgotten.
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Old 01-07-2012   #4
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Thank God for Central Camera in Chicago. I was there 50 years ago and still go today.
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Old 01-07-2012   #5
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Adray Photo in Dearborn, Michigan. I bought my first quality 35mm camera at Adray's back in 1971 (a Canon FTb) and my Leica MP in 2005. There were a full-line camera store (analog and digital) right up to it's closing back in 2009. The store was successful too, even in today's economy, but the owner got tired of the grind and decided to retire. Our loss.

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Central Photo Service
Old 01-07-2012   #6
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Central Photo Service

Sigh. Central Photo Service, on Chicago Avenue, East Chicago, Indiana. My first job, in the 1970s (from age of 12, yes, 12, a legal and paid position). Andy Adams (nee Adamchik), proprietor. The store is long gone, as is the shopping street.
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Old 01-07-2012   #7
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I was just at Central Camera in Chicago about 10 minutes ago. Picked up a used handgrip for M cameras. What a great shop they have. However I do miss several camera shops that once were located in Grand Rapids, MI. Ardens Photo, and The Camera Shop over in East GR.
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Old 01-07-2012   #8
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The place seems like it has a good following..........The last time I was there they had no Kodak Fixer??????? I'd love to visit their basement!
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Old 01-07-2012   #9
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Another goodie is Helix in Chicago but they have changed so much over the years.....They still have some familiar faces there from years ago. I remember when they were on Superior Ave.....
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Old 01-07-2012   #10
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Here's a shot of a Canon demo taken at Adray Photo back in 1974 (or so). I do remember that the pic was taken with a just-introduced FD 24mm F1.4 lens wide-open at F1.4, on my FTb. Talk about a trip down memory lane.



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Old 01-07-2012   #11
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I don't know if there is a closed store I'm fond of, but I did processing and printing at a camera store in Dallas. There are several memories associated with it.

There is only one store I go to on a fairly regular basis. I hope they find a way to survive.
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Old 01-07-2012   #12
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I never took any pictures there, but The Snap Shack in Glastonbury, CT was the place that really fueled my interest in photography (and supplied my used gear habit). Frank Slade, the owner, was a great guy (still is; he retired and closed the store) -- and his daughter and wife also worked there a fair amount.

The other local store, also now closed, was MK Photo in East Hartford, later Glastonbury. I got several really great deals on gear from Bill Holden, the owner, and he did fast and inexpensive developing and printing of my medium format stuff. He, too, retired.

These guys were "lifers" in the business and treated every one of their customers like they were special.
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Old 01-07-2012   #13
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Some in the United Kingdom:

Vic Odden's just by London Bridge Station;
Clark's Cameras in West Wickham High Street (West Wickham being the London suburb where I grew up);
A small camera shop, name forgotten, in Market Harborough by the Museum.

Regards

Andrew More
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Old 01-07-2012   #14
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Here in Chicago...


Altman's
Darkroom Aids <-- this one I miss the most
Shutans
Camera Exchange
Wolk's
plus many more

...all gone
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Old 01-07-2012   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Vics View Post
I don't have any pics, but I sure miss Unruh's Photography Shop in Santa Rosa, CA. I bought a ton of Nikon F gear there, bought my first Rollei there, tons of darkroom supplies,etc. They once let me take a Hexar AF out for a three day try-out. Didn't buy. They showed me an M3 with collapsible 'cron, collapsible Elmar 90, and a 35 of some kind. Didn't know what I was looking at (except it wasz a Leica) and it was $1200 for the kit, so I passed. (ugh). I did finally get an M3 and 'cron. The body and the collapsible 'cron were $1200. Live and learn. I sure miss that store. Nice people, too.
What a shop it was. I bought a ton of Kodachrome and Ektachrome at Unruh when I was living in Santa Rosa. They let me borrow a tripod once without payment or a deposit. Great place, great people, great loss.
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Old 01-07-2012   #16
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Mackinaw--great picture!
Unfortunately, I am more than old enough to remember the "out there" styles!
Thanks for posting...
Paul
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Old 01-07-2012   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bingley View Post
I have fond memories of Brooks Cameras on Maiden Lane in San Francisco... long gone, now, but not forgotten.
I miss Brooks as well Steve, both the SF and San Mateo stores. I remember ogling the Contax SLRs when I was really getting into photography.

My first ever paycheck was from doing inventory at Brooks, still have the check

Other store I miss a great deal, though they're going strong in other locations, was Camera West in Monterey. They're terrific still in Walnut Creek and Palm Desert.
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Old 01-07-2012   #18
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In Canberra ,Australia Fletchers Fotographics.
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Old 01-07-2012   #19
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Fairhaven Camera in Connecticut was where I first discovered screw-mount Leicas (I never heard anyone call them Barnacks then). At the time everyone's have-to-have was Nikon F, so LTM gear was relatively undervalued. I picked up a 35/3.5 Summaron for $20, with another $20 for the 35mm brightline Leica finder; IIIg with 50mm collapsible 'cron was $160. Just within reach for a student.

P.S. Found this: http://www.fultonhistory.com/Process...20-%200450.pdf

Last edited by PMCC : 01-07-2012 at 15:33. Reason: Add link in P.S.
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Old 01-07-2012   #20
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Heller's Camera in Bethesda MD. THAT was a camera store!!
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Old 01-07-2012   #21
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Not really a store, but Kerner Optical closed it's doors late last year.
Kerner had originally been the practical special effects division of ILM.
Most of the major miniature based special effects from the last 30 years was shot there.
Everything was auctioned off, so when it came time to pick stuff up, I was able to get in and take a few photos




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Old 01-07-2012   #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mackinaw View Post
Here's a shot of a Canon demo taken at Adray Photo back in 1974 (or so). ...
I'm glad that you put the date in, because the plaid jacket, paisley tie and low cropped sideburns never would have given that away. ...
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Old 01-07-2012   #24
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City Photo on Govt St, Victoria BC spent way to much money there back in the late 70's and 80's....tiny store but packed to gunnels
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Old 01-07-2012   #25
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definitely! my first decent camera came from Heller's - talked Leica with him a bit, but alas, I was on a Pentax budget.

Granted, these days the Leica usually stays home while the Pentax 67II goes out to play, but still.... wish there were still places like Hellers - and people like Mr Heller - around here.


Quote:
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Heller's Camera in Bethesda MD. THAT was a camera store!!
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Old 01-07-2012   #26
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I miss the "old" KEH--first on Spring St in Atlanta and then an absolutely GREAT store on 14th street. Many days, you could even talk to King Grant, the founder.
They had cabinets full of old Nikon and Leica, that you could see, feel and touch--and of course, even buy! Lots of knowledgeable folks working there, too.
Was a great retail store--next door, almost, to the big pre-Ritz Wolf camera on 14th street. Wolf's also had a great used dept. Days long gone...
Paul
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Old 01-07-2012   #27
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1.Frank Martin on Kingsland Road E8, Hackney East London.
2.Videovent on Essex Road, Islington N1, North London.
3.Leopolds on Hunter Street WC1, Central London.
4.Kingsley Photographic on Tottenham Court Road W1, Central London.
They are the ones I used to regularly go to. Plenty more gone in London. Same with nice cheap independent record and clothes shops not to mention coffee shops. Very few left now. RIP. All replaced by bland souless chains. Shame I don't have any photos, but how was I to predict the future?
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Old 01-07-2012   #28
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Two that I remember with special fondness are Herman Lamb's store in Chattanooga, TN (I think it was called Camera Center, but not sure -- it's been gone a long time) and Brown's Camera in Miami. His last location, as far as I know, was on Biscayne Blvd. just north of 79th St. He was quite the Leica specialist. In 1968 or '69 I didn't buy a pristine M3 with 50mm Summicron from him for $275. Been kicking myself ever since. I've always wondered how my photographic career would have gone if I had started with rangefinders instead of a Nikon F.
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I miss Superior Bulk Film!
Old 01-07-2012   #29
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I miss Superior Bulk Film!

In Chicago, where they had so many bizarre and wonderful emulsions for my double-8mm bolex cameras. Video killed the film star!
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Old 01-07-2012   #30
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In Chicago, where they had so many bizarre and wonderful emulsions for my double-8mm bolex cameras. Video killed the film star!
Digital killed photography.
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Old 01-07-2012   #31
Mike Riches
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Don Chatterson in Seattle Wash. He really knew the Leica .
Camera world the old one in downtown Portland Or.
The old Citizens on 7th in Portland Or
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Old 01-07-2012   #32
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My recollection is that there were two main camera stores in St Joseph, MO, where I grew up. One stayed open at least until the late 60s, as I recall going in there on leave from Vietnam and being invited to a football game at Lawrence, Kansas. Some at the shop had been active in the St. Joseph Camera Club. All were very knowledgeable and loved photography. They were a class act, making recommendations based on what they thought was right for the customer, not what would make them a bigger buck. They developed and printed on site, sold cameras and darkroom supplies. I wish I could remember the store's name, but it has just been too long since I was even in St. Joe, much less in that store.

Another that I think deserves mention, is Spiratone. They were mainly a mail order store, but I believe they also had a retail outlet. Someone correct me if I am wrong. I bought a lot by mail from them when I was in Korea. Film, lenses and darkroom supplies. They also had a line of lenses and cameras, as well as unusual but useful photographic accessories. I still have and use an 18mm lens I bought from them about 1975. I bought my first Adox film from them.
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Old 01-07-2012   #33
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Century Camera, first in Highland Park, and then Royal Oak, Michigan. I bought a Leica III Mod. F from Joe Dworkin, the owner, in about 1962. Had to take a city bus to get there, then transfer. Camera cost me $45-, and I got a 50mm LTM Nikkor to go with it, for another 25-. Century, Joe, and his wife Grace took care of me for may years, and are much missed.
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Old 01-08-2012   #34
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Jerry's Cameras in Toronto. Small shop at Yonge and Dundas, fav hangout for newspaper photographers. Miss it tons, got my first camera there and took forever to pay it off on lay away. King Cameras was another nice shop in Toronto. Johnny Maiola worked/ hung out there. Really nice guy.
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Old 01-08-2012   #35
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Fishkin Bros. in Perth Amboy NJ was the biggest store in the entire state! Leica, Hassy, Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Fuji, Minolta, Mamiya, Kowa, Koni-Omega, Sinar, entire darkroom dept., film dept., repair dept., lighting dept., large format, new, used, they had it ALL! Seemless paper in 12' rolls (or were they 10'?), and the entire staff KNEW you and could help you find something.

Sadly the store closed due to mail-order taking-over cause cheap-ass photogs didn't want to pay sales tax (even though it was cut in half in a Urban Enterprise Zone) or $10.00 more than what you could get it for in NYC! Really sorry to see it go. An institution, known throughout the industry.

And more important--you made FRIENDS!
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Old 01-08-2012   #36
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St. Louis Photo, which became City Photo, which became something else - City Mac, I think - until it finally succumbed to market pressures, I guess. Also Jefferson Camera in St. Louis, as well as OJ Photo in one of the St. Louis suburbs. OJ still has a shop, but really scaled down. When I first went there they had a tremendous stock of papers - Agfa, Kodak, all the best stuff for the darkroom - as well as high end cameras and some terrific staff. But my favorite was probably St. Louis Photo. Truly a pro shop that also was very patient with a young newbie. They are gone - now a parking garage for St. Louis University - and I still wish I could go in there and buy a brick of Tri-X...
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Old 01-08-2012   #37
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Fairborn Camera and Video in Fairborn Ohio.
In business since the 40's and owned by the same family right to the end.

I was lucky enough to work there from 1998 until the store closed in 2010. i met a lot of amazing people in that time. Most of my best friends today were people I met while I was behind the counter at Fairborn Camera.

FCV was a long time Leica dealer and many of the "Leica elite" were regular customers.



Leica Demo Day probably 1999-2000
Pictured in the center is Roger Pelham "Mr. Leica" one of the founding members of LHSA and a good friend.
He believed everyone should own a Leica and over the years he probably sold more of them than anyone else on earth.




Leica bad boy Greg Metzger




Dick Bailey

Like most of the stores listed here FCV was as much a gathering place for local photogs as it was a store.
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Old 01-08-2012   #38
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Altmans for sure. What an amazing store.

Doc McGinnis in Nashville was at one time one of the larger Leica dealers. He had a pharmacy on Gallatin Rd with 90% of the store as camera gear. Doc might have twenty five or more M bodies an a dozens of lenses plus some of the rare goodies. We had several great stores within a short drive.

I also have to mention Alex Thomas in Buffalo. I bought a ton of Rollei SL66 and Rollei 3003 gear from him.
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Old 01-08-2012   #39
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Lincoln Camera on Union St in Wilmington DE was the place to go for years.
Cutler Camera in NJ, PA and DE, a small family run chain.

We still have cameras Etc., I hope the outlast Kodak...
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Old 01-08-2012   #40
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Memories - yes. People. Now we have an html order page. Simpler times, better times.
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