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Some Camera and Film Finishers Hit Hard by Recession – One Monrovia Company Fills the Void

April 16th, 2009 by Temple City Tribune

Ritz Camera Stores to Shutter

It used to be that corporate giant, mega stores swallowed up the small mom and pop business in towns and cities around the country. Recently, however, that trend is reversing itself. The big guys are closing, leaving room, hopefully, for the small business to survive and ultimately thrive.

One of the biggest industries affected (aside from Banking) by not only the recession but the incredibly fast changing digital world, is that of photography.

ritz closing Remember when Polaroid’s were the “instant” camera? Well that’s all changed, of course, thanks to the digital age. In fact, Polaroid no longer sells “instant film” for their Land Cameras. Instant cameras are just not fast enough and don’t have the quality digital now provides.

Remember 35mm Film? Well there are a few places that still develop and print that good old emulsion layered stuff, with good, old fashion, chemicals and still get stunning results, albeit a bit longer in process. In fact, the traditional film developing and printing has actually started a resurgence, of sorts, among traditionalists and those wanting a different feel in their photography than that of the clean and crisp, digital image.

One such place that can still accommodate those film needs is Studio 55 in Monrovia. Formerly Pros One Hour Photo, the shop was a victim of corporate takeover by a greedy shopping center landlord. The center’s owners wanted a chain yogurt store in place of a small, low volume cash business like the one hour photo lab that Rick Keshishi had started and built to a good, steady and productive business providing Monrovia with first class film processing and exceptional printing.

Racing to find a visible and affordable location in Monrovia wasn’t easy for Keshishi, but eventually he did find a space eventually right behind the Blockbuster on Foothill near Myrtle.

Although not visible from the street, customers are slowly finding that their old faithful lab/studio is not only still in business but also still processing and printing good old Kodak film as well as every other flavor of film available.

Keeping up with the times, Rick makes it easy for you and offers an optional CD with your film order which will contain all the film images scanned for emailing or whatever you like. So you can have the best of both worlds.

Small retail photofinishers have many advantages over the online and mega store processors. The personal attention to detail, so often missing in our must-have-it-now world, is far more evident when you deal with the owner directly.

Even though digital imaging is considered the norm these days, people often still need a good print to frame, and that’s something many home printers simply cannot do on a large scale and with necessary quality.

The big guys, like Ritz Camera Center Inc., have recently taken another step towards reorganization efforts, filing for bankruptcy just last month. The Beltsville-based, privately held chain has won the approval of rules governing the sale of assets at 400 stores it plans to shutter. Ritz has more 1,000 locations in 45 states. The local Store in Hastings ranch has posted signs saying they are on the way out and to hurry in for deals, though these "deals" rival those seen in the early days of the Circuit City closing: 10 or 20 percent off already too-high prices.

It’s always sad to see a business go under, but when it’s a small business with only one location it can be devastating. Luckily many smaller businesses in Monrovia, like Studio 55, are seeing some growth despite the recession and naysayers. The demise of the corporate “giants” may actually be helping smaller businesses as people realize the importance of shopping locally and supporting local merchants.

Pasadena has embarked on a “shop local” campaign. Regarding the success of the campaign it is perhaps too early to tell but the concept is simple: keep your dollars in your community and those dollars will help support other businesses and the community which it serves. Logical thinking really, but thousands now shop online to save time and money. Many of those sites offer some pretty good deals but you never deal with the owner. And what if you have a problem? Good luck actually talking to a real person! “If you’re not happy with your purchase press #1 and hold on………..for a very long time!” is probably what you’ll hear.

Dealing with the company directly is always best, especially with something treasured like your photographic memories.

Studio 55 is located at: 117 W Foothill in Monrovia Call (626) 303-5555 for more information


By Terry Miller

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