Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Say It Ain't So

Say It Aint So, originally uploaded by Dennis Power.

I finally had a chance to shop here and now this: www.nashuatelegraph.com/News/448574-196/camera-shop-in-do...

Such nice people.

Please remember to come visit us at our new site NHPhotoTour.com and change your bookmarks.

Sad sign of the times. - Tracy Lee Carroll

Camera shop in downtown closing down

By ASHLEY SMITH Staff Writer

NASHUA – Cameraland, a fixture on Main Street for more than 60 years, is closing at the end of the year.

Declining sales, competition from online and big box retailers, the arrival of digital photography and the recession all led to the difficult decision to shut the doors for good Dec. 31, according to store manager and part owner Brian Lawrence.

“This industry has been changing so much at a fast rate for so many years. The writing is on the wall that this kind of store is disappearing,” said Lawrence, whose father bought the business in 1948. “The world’s changing and I think we just need to silently bow out before we’re forced to bow out.”

The store is not planning a big going-out-of-business sale. Lawrence said there will be some small price reductions before the store quietly shuts its doors on New Year’s Eve.

Lawrence’s father, Alfred, bought the business when it was still called Nashua Camera Shop and located on the second floor of 135 Main St. The business has bounced around Main Street since then, occupying four different street-level storefronts before settling at its current 211 Main St. location two years ago.

Brian Lawrence, his father, and his mother, Lorraine, co-own the store now. The family business is in its third generation, with Lawrence’s son, Brad, working in the store, too.

The decision to close was not easy, Lawrence said, and came after a period of going back and forth. The family started telling customers and fellow downtown business owners about 10 days ago, he said.

“After 61 years of a family doing something, you don’t just say, ‘Hey, let’s call it a day,’ ” Lawrence said. “Many of our customers have been friends for years. You feel like you’re taking something away from the people you care about.”

Business started changing for Cameraland with the rise in popularity of digital photography, but the initial changes were good, Lawrence said. People were interested in the new technology and sales of camera equipment went up, despite a decline in the number of people dropping off film for processing.

Eventually, photo processing – once the most profitable segment of the business – dropped off to almost nothing.

“People take more and more pictures than they’ve ever taken, but they’re not printing them,” Lawrence said.

Add that to an overall decrease in sales of electronics, increased competition from online retailers, the advent of cell phone cameras and the worst recession in history, and it became clear that the store would no longer be able to survive.

In general, customers are also less interested in the quality of service and more interested in a low price, Lawrence said.

“It’s changing faster than we can adapt,” he said.

Sue Butler, executive director of downtown advocacy organization Great American Downtown, expressed sadness that such a fixture is closing.

“We’re definitely disappointed that a business that has been such a landmark is going to be leaving,” she said.

Lawrence said he is grateful to all the customers that have helped keep the store in business this long.

“The one think that you can’t stress enough is being thankful that the people around here gave us 61 great years,” he said. “It’s been fun.”

Ashley Smith can be reached at 594-6446 or asmith@nashuatelegraph.com.

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