Ritz Camera Closing

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by daverhaas, Sep 11, 2012.

  1. 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... " )
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. "...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.
  5. Spearhead

    Spearhead Moderator

    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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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 +.
  10. 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.
  11. I was mainly sending digital files to Ritz through their online system, then walking over to the store and picking up my prints whenever I felt like stretching my legs.
    Costco is miles away . . .
  12. I was mainly sending digital files to Ritz through their online system, then walking over to the store and picking up my prints whenever I felt like stretching my legs.​
    Walgreens does that in my area - and the Walgreens local to me does a very decent job at it. Their web site is above average user friendly as well.
  13. Mark Todd, the Costco where I live, South Puget sound, Wa., has just discontinued C-41 entirely. I think now the only place left might be Walgreens, not sure of that. We had Kit's Cameras here, owned by Ritz. They closed 2 months ago when Ritz filed for bankruptcy. Now the closest camera store is at Lakewood mall, about 30 min. if traffic on I-5 is not it's usual crawl, one hour would be a more common time. I could burn some $4 a gallon gas and head north to Seattle but I just have given up caring anymore. Camera stores are dead, haven't been to a real one in 20 years. I don't do any C-41 anyway, now all color is digital and my collection of film cameras are only used for B&W.
  14. I just checked Walgreen's website. A 5x7 with borders is $1.99. Too much for it to be any fun when I'm experimenting with different croppings, contrasts, colors, on a lot of different pictures.
  15. I worked in a Ritz store for a while. Our prices on POPULAR items often matched B&H, etc. We didn't have a large inventory, because there was very little demand for (say) Canon L lenses in our area. We made GOOD prints, despite the crap software we had to use. Many times I would look at a print I'd made, throw it out and do it over. Against company policy, I brought my laptop to work so I could make high-quality large prints on our Epson 7800.
    Ritz had many problems at the corporate level. The boat business, for example. David Ritz wanted to have a thousand stores--he didn't care if some of them were two blocks from others, or bother to close underperforming units. The ESP service plans were very good, but much too expensive for the Upgrade Era. Many employees were undertrained, and the corporate emphasis on Nikon was damaging to overall sales.
  16. There are no Ritz camera stores around here. However it's probably pretty tough competing with BHPhoto and places like that.
  17. I'm sad, and for a perfectly selfish reason. Their store on Boylston Street in Boston is the most convenient place for me to make prints, and (with the caveat that they print as received and not adjust shots) they did a very good job. Many of their employees attend the local art schools and seem to enjoy their jobs.
    Other locations were disappointing, but "my" store seldom disappoints. I'll miss it.
  18. Most if not all the Ritz stores closed around here(Washington DC) about 2 years ago. They had some great inventory sales before they finally went out of business.
  19. I was mainly sending digital files to Ritz through their online system, then walking over to the store and picking up my prints whenever I felt like stretching my legs.
    Costco is miles away . . .​
    Costco will send prints to your home and even let you walk around in the meantime.
  20. Ritz went down hill?
    They were in the valley when I first found them, and dug in deeper as the years went by.
    Our local store tried to tell me that a UV filter did the same thing as a CP-- only better. Another time they advised a friend to use an iPhone picture as a reference since they had better color fidelity than his D700.
    Regardless, sad to see a brick and mortar business die--but perhaps this one deserved it.
  21. Seriously, I gave up on Ritz when the neighborhood store in Pleasanton CA wanted to charge me "per exposure" on a roll of 120 with 10 6x7 images. Only $1.99 per frame. Sheesh. And to think this the same company I worked for in Pennsylvania in 1974-1975.
    We at least need to have some knowledge of photography back then...
  22. I would guess that they meant $1.99 per print based on the prints you selected Tom. I never really thought about it before, but are there printers that will spit out a machine prints from 120 rolls? A couple years ago I shot a roll of color 6x7 and it cost about $20 for a A&I (a pro lab here in LA) to develop the roll, scan and put the ten images on a disc.
  23. Well, I for one have fond memories of the old Wolf Camera store on 14th Street in Atlanta, which was demolished several years back to make way for the new bridge.
    The staff was friendly and knowledgeable, and their film processing was pretty darned good.
    But the main reason I loved it was this: as that was the flagship store for the chain, whenever film expired it got shipped back there and sold at a huge discount. I used to love rummaging through the cans full of all kinds of pro film, and walking out with 10 or 12 rolls of, say, Provia for about a buck and a half each. And, very best of all, they used to clear out boxes of expired 4x5 Polaroid--for $11.99 a box! I used to snag sometimes 6 or 7 boxes at a time, and used my Crown Graphic as the world's biggest point and shoot. I've still got some stashed away--I've been shooting my way through it; some is fine and some has unfortunately died.
    Not only that, I bought my faithful Speedotron 2403CX kit with three heads and accessories in there for half the normal retail price. As the fellow behind the counter was ringing it up on my card, he said bitterly, "Man, if I had 1500 bucks handy, you'd have never touched this!"
    Good times.
  24. I am sad to see Ritz going. I had just joined the RITZPIX Frequent Foto Image Rewards Club this summer and my local store closed less than two months later. But I got my money's worth. They had great prices on prints Tuesday - Thursday, and on the final days I was able to pick up a 3rd party battery for my 7D for about $14.
  25. I just found out Monday that they were closing. Sad to see so many people loosing their jobs. The prints at the Wolf Ultra in Plano ( a Dallas suburb) were better than say Sam's Club.

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