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Ritz Camera Closing

David Haas , Sep 11, 2012; 09:58 p.m.

According to the Minneapolis Star - Tribune - Ritz / Pro-Ex is calling it quits after no one bid on the company as an "ongoing concern".

No dates for closing are announced...

Personally Ritz went downhill when they bought Pro-Ex and tried to merge the 2 stores into one. Many of their locations were next to each other (or within a couple of blocks) and they often kept the worse store open as opposed to the better location / more knowledgeable staff. Plus they had two different business models and audiences - Pro Ex aiming for the portrait business and Ritz trying to compete with B and H, etc...

I still remember trying to buy a book at a Ritz a few years ago (before the first round of closings) and the clerk running away in tears because he could not figure out the cash register. That lost me as a customer for life. (And to think I was actually being patient with him - no raised voice, no yelling, no threatening...just saying calmly - "take your time, I understand... " )



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Wayne Decker , Sep 11, 2012; 10:49 p.m.

They had a cash register? That's too noobie a camera shop for me. I only go to camera shops that sell film cameras, soup their own negs in the back room and think Polaroid is a passing fad.

Rob Bernhard , Sep 11, 2012; 10:49 p.m.

The Wolf/Ritz near my train station was really great. I had ok/average experiences with other locations, but this one was always good. Yeah, prices were not B&H, but the staff was actually knowledgeable, truly helpful, and interested in understanding their customers. We used to order gobs of 4x6's through them and I really miss having them around.

In fact, since they've closed, we've not ordered a single print, because everyone else in town doesn't do as good a job. Off to mpix we go.

Lex Jenkins , Sep 11, 2012; 10:57 p.m.

"...Ritz went downhill when..."

That's a perfect open-ended, fill-in-the-blanks starter comment.

With the exception of the outlet/clearance store in the Fort Worth/Dallas area, I've never seen a Ritz or Wolf camera store in any state that had any valid reason to exist, other than a complete lack of competition. The only knowledgeable sales staff I met worked in the outlet/clearance stores or in used equipment sales.

In any city where I've visited a Ritz or Wolf store, there wasn't a single thing they did that wasn't being done better by other stores. They had a gift for combining premium pricing with service designed to alienate customers - inaccurate information delivered with snotty indifference.

The only reason they've lasted so long is aggressive advertising to novice photographers in markets with no competition - usually small to medium sized cities where only Ritz or Wolf existed in malls and shopping strips. It's a wonder they lasted this long against far better web savvy retailers.

On the plus side, I've heard rumors there's an interesting story waiting to be told about behind the scenes family squabbles in the Ritz/Wolf dynasty.

Jeff Spirer , Sep 11, 2012; 11:25 p.m.

I've never seen a Ritz or Wolf camera store in any state that had any valid reason to exist, other than a complete lack of competition.

What I observed is that they did well in the suburbs, away from real competition. They did meet a need, although they may have done that by pushing out the local businesses.

Dave Redmann , Sep 11, 2012; 11:59 p.m.

Until 2005, I had a Wolf very near my house (an easy walk), that did fine with my C-41 35mm film. Ran a lot of film through there, with very few issues of bad chemistry, scratched negatives, strips cut in the exposed frame, or any of the other sorts of issues one frequently encounters with drugstore processing. The lady who usually worked there was quite pleasant and reasonably knowledgeable / efficient. This location never reopened after Hurricane Katrina, which as a business decision probably made sense. But for years it definitely served a purpose for me.

Marc Todd , Sep 12, 2012; 12:04 a.m.

When I first started photography I shot mostly the process C-41 black and white films. This was because I could get prints for a lot cheaper then shooting regular black and white film. The trouble was that it was a total crap shoot as to how experienced the employees who were working at Ritz were are any particular day. Here in LA my prints always came back with a green or pink tint no matter how many times they re-printed my order. However, when visiting family in northern CA it was a whole different story. The clerks at one Ritz in a mall in Sacramento always gave me stunning 4x6 prints with great highlights and deep blacks. I never could figure out why nobody in LA could do the same as I was told the machines in all their stores were the same (some kind of Fuji Frontier something-or-other) so it was all down to who was working that day. Anyway, back in LA I finally had enough and when a neighbor in my bulding suggested I take a beginning photography course he had just taken I thought "Well, why not?" So while I won't miss Ritz in the least, it's because of their poor quality that made me learn my own developing and printing which had a profound effect on the course my interest in photography would take me.

martin h , Sep 12, 2012; 12:39 a.m.

Well, I'm sad that they are closing. Their prints weren't quite as good as the ones I get from Adorama, but they were pretty good, and being able to send them a picture and it pick it up a few hours later, then print it again after making a few adjustments, has been a blast.

I learned that there was a secret to getting good prints from RItz: I had to tell them to turn off the auto-correction feature when processing my prints.

That's pretty much it for the one-hour photo shops, and I'm sorry to see them go. Where else could I get 5x7's, with borders, printed exactly as I made them look in Photoshop, for 57 cents, in about an hour?

Not to mention that a lot of the people at Ritz are nice folk, who work hard and have a sense of humor, and now they will be out of work.

David Haas , Sep 12, 2012; 07:19 a.m.

Martin - according to an update - they will be out of work as soon as today - the liquidation sale is starting - and of course the liquidation firms bring in their own help and raise all prices to MSRP +.

Marc Todd , Sep 12, 2012; 10:28 a.m.

Many Costco locations still develop and print 135 film. Glossy or matte, boarder or no boarder, $1.59 for developing and (I think) $.13 or $.16 per 4x6. Excellent quality.

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