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  1. #131
    TA-Reiland's Avatar
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    There's a small independent photo shop in the town where I work. It's a block from the university campus. I think his prices on film and chemicals are bordering on outrageous. Do I buy from him? Absolutely! I want him to stay in business. I'm in there almost every week. Besides, he's a good guy and has a wealth of photo knowledge which he shares willingly. All I have to do is ask. We have two Ritz stores in the area, too. I haven't been in either one of those in years.

    TR
    "I believe that there is a strange inversion that happens with photography over time;
    photographs of special events take on an ordinary dullness
    and pictures of the everyday become special."
    --Andrew Sanderson, Black & White Photography (GMC) Issue No. 90

  2. #132
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    Ritz has caused a huge problem with supply in the market place.
    They owe nikon 49 million, canon 32 million, etc...
    They owe Tamarac 19 million. There was word that Tamarac might go out of business because of non-payment of this debt.
    There are several other small companies in the same boat as Tamarac.

    So, the mis-management of Ritz has done great damage to the industry. It has caused supply shortages, mistrust, no credit for other stores and forced small well established companies out of business.

    So this just isn't JUST about RITZ/WOLF. Chapter11 ?? They might as well close, no one will sell to them afterward.

    dw

  3. #133

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobNewYork
    ... I had a small store and studio ... I closed down once I realized I was working 7 days a week purely for the landlord. ...
    Hi Bob,
    Have you tried operating your business from your house? As I had suggested on the Qualex Thread, try setting up a relationship with some Stores in your area where they accept Film for developing / printing for a small fee they collect from their customers, and you can take your fee. You can pickup / deliver once or twice a week, and do your work at your house. This should be a lot more profitable than operating a Store front.
    One big problem for photo shops is the expense of keeping up a store front -- especially when it's rented. Renting from a Mall is the worst! I'm not surprised by what's happening to Ritz because this is to be expected from an outfit that focuses on Digital. There's no money in selling electronics like Digital Cameras, and it's essentially impossible to make money printing Digital Pictures. I doubt that the cost of a Digital Printer can ever be recovered from selling Pictures. You can make a higher profit margin on developing and printing Film -- even if volumes are lower. The Digital Picture business isn't worth it.
    Mr. Terry Mester

  4. #134

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    Quote Originally Posted by TerryM View Post
    Hi Bob,
    Have you tried operating your business from your house?.....
    Hi Terry:
    I did take a cursory look at that. The problem is that I could never get town permission for the DEC waste operation. Also, the lower volumes translate into very high chemistry costs with mini lab machines - in addition to the toxic waste disposal costs, (about $150 per 55 gal drum here - you have to develop an awful lot of films just to cover that!) Also, unless you do a daily pick-up service, (and gas is going to go way back up again) your turnaround is 3-5 days - that cuts out the majority who want same day and further reduces volumes. Then you have machine maintenance. A Noritsu tech will take between a half and a full day to diagnose and service - at $110 per hour plus the cost of parts. Again, you have to process a helluva lot of films to just cover that. With the local CVS doing 4x6 prints at 25 cents or less there would still be a huge investment in time and money with very questionable returns.

    I absolutely see where you're coming from - maintaining the availability of quality, commercial film processing but the big-box boys have it by the throat for the general public. For example, my local Costco offers 11x14 prints for less than $3.00 pretty much while you wait. It was my understanding that Kodak supplied paper and chemicals to the big chains without charge and levied on a "per print" basis. In concert with the minilab manufacturers who offered free unlimited tech assistance - the small guy was out in the cold.

    Like I say, I did consider it but the potential return would be too small and uncertain - plus, doing commercial photography is far more enjoyable and interesting o be honest.

    Bob H
    "Why is there always a better way?"

  5. #135

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    Here in Salt Lake City Ritz bought out Inkley's some years ago. They kept the Inkley name, however. Over time they went from an advanced-amateur/pro shop to a point and shoot shop. You couldn't find anything serious and decent. I quit going there in favor of a couple of other great camera places in town--and the Internet. It's too bad. Twenty years ago, Inkleys used to be a great place. I'm not sad to see Ritz go, either.

  6. #136

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobNewYork View Post
    ... For example, my local Costco offers 11x14 prints for less than $3.00 pretty much while you wait. It was my understanding that Kodak supplied paper and chemicals to the big chains without charge and levied on a "per print" basis. In concert with the minilab manufacturers who offered free unlimited tech assistance - the small guy was out in the cold. ...
    Wow! I can't believe they can offer 11x14 for so cheap. That is an Optical print as opposed to a scan and Digital print? I don't know how Costco makes money off that. I would've thought that each 11x14 sheet would cost over $2 just to buy the paper. It doesn't look like a good deal for Kodak or the Minilab company. I don't know why they would get into such an arrangement. The Minilab charged small guys like you $110/hour to probably subsidize their losses from places like Costco! Does Costco develop 120 for Professionals? Many Pros have a hard time finding a Lab that develops 120 which causes them to drop the Format.
    Mr. Terry Mester

  7. #137

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    Speaking of Salt Lake City, Ritz, in the form of Inkley's, has a store in the nearby suburb of Draper. A couple of years ago I tried to buy some kodachrome there, and the guy behind the counter had no idea what kodachrome was.

  8. #138

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    Quote Originally Posted by TerryM View Post
    ..... Does Costco develop 120 for Professionals? Many Pros have a hard time finding a Lab that develops 120 which causes them to drop the Format.
    Pretty much all of the film processors will take 120 and 220 film. The printers too require only the addition of a 120 neg carrier, mask set and lens. Although these are hugely expensive and will set you back a few grand. Again, you have to process a lot of film to get just that back. It was reckoned that you needed to process and print 40 - 50 rolls of film per day to break even - excluding overheads. For example, just turning on the machines and bringing them up to temperature probably cost about $25 in electricity alone. You'd have to process four films just to cover the the cost of turning on the machines!

    The whole equation changed. Energy prices soared, costs of ecological compliance soared, and volumes and prices both fell. On the other thread about Qualex - Kodak acceded to the big chains and provided the chems and paper at prices and on terms the small guy couldn't get. They created the competition for themselves also - and still offered daily pick up for the more difficult and lower volume activity. Classic problem of individual corporate divisions acting in their own interests without looking at the big picture.

    Ritz's demise came about because they didn't fit into any category. They weren't a small, local enthusiast-run outfit and they weren't big enough to attract the volumes necessary. The pressure for ever grater shareholder returns led to the sort of cost-cutting that resulted in a disenchanted staff. It became a spiral. There's no middle ground any more. If you want to earn a living you have to be very high volume-low margin, or low volume-high margin, i.e. custom and specialist. In the middle you end up with low margin and insufficient volume to cover overhead - and earn a living.

    Bob H
    "Why is there always a better way?"

  9. #139

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    I bought an enlarger and my first TLR (a Lubitel!) from Ritz in Carson, California back in 1979 or so. At that time Ritz was a small chain of serious hobbyist level stores, and the Carson shop was in a small strip mall.

    The Ritz store near my house now closed last year. They did a fair job on processing but a Safeway with a decent tech right across the parking lot did the same work at half the price. Other than that it was mostly stocked with picture frames and cheap tripods- plus a lot of unused "digital print" stations.

  10. #140
    Pragmatist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spark View Post
    I bought an enlarger and my first TLR (a Lubitel!) from Ritz in Carson, California back in 1979 or so. At that time Ritz was a small chain of serious hobbyist level stores, and the Carson shop was in a small strip mall.

    The Ritz store near my house now closed last year. They did a fair job on processing but a Safeway with a decent tech right across the parking lot did the same work at half the price. Other than that it was mostly stocked with picture frames and cheap tripods- plus a lot of unused "digital print" stations.
    I saw them do the same thing (as Wolf) with a small chain of locally owned stores on the west coast of Florida (Nortons Camera) in the 80s. It did not take them many years to run the stores down the hill.

    Last week, I darted into one for the first time here in Knoxville. It was exactly as you said--frames, a sparse selection of accessories, and clerks trying to upsell clueless buyers on digitals that were far beyond their needs or abilities. Luckily, all I needed was a good strap for my Yashica 124. I left wondering what they would have thought of the camera the strap was going on...

    B&H and others do not need to worry that any more of my money finds its way to Wolf/Ritz.
    Patrick

    something witty and profound needs to be inserted here...



 

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