As a film shooter, I was often dismayed to find camera shops didn't stock film and were ignorant of what was available. Now, as the owner of a camera shop specializing in film photography, I understand the situation better. Most film makes very little profit and there is the real risk that the film will expire and you are stuck with it, erasing whatever profit you might have made in the first place. Unless a shop specializes in film photography, there is really no point in carrying it. Camera stores make MUCH MORE profit selling a lens cleaning cloth than they do on a roll of film, with much less risk and effort.

As a film photography speciality shop, we sell more film than a regular camera shop because we attract film photographers. The risk is reduced. We still don't make much money on roll film, but at least it moves and we are supporting our community of film photographers. There is another shop in town (Glass Key Photo) that is even more adventurous than we are in catering to the film community. They stock odd sizes like 127 and 620 (and 8mm movie film). Again, because they are a known source for film, they have a steady (if barely profitable) business.

Roll film seems to be an economic contradiction because it is scarce but has low margins. But it's not true because most film sales take place online. Internet giants like Amazon and B&H actually sell film online for less than what we pay to our wholesaler! I'm not complaining. This is just the world we (photographers and camera shops) live in, and there are good things and bad things about it. I myself buy film online if it's something I can't find locally. We just have to adapt.

My bottom-line message is that conventional camera stores can no longer be the center of the film photography community. They can't afford to be. If film photographers want a LOCAL source of information, support, encouragement, and (best of all) a supply of fresh film, find an independent camera shop or gallery or workspace or community arts center that shares the passion. Support them, buy from them, and spread the word.

I'll give you an example. I like to brew beer, but if I were to go into Beverages and More and ask for some Wyeast 1275 top-fermenting yeast I would get a strange look and maybe a call to security. But when I go to the tiny beer brewing shop on the outskirts of town, I get exactly what I want, some insider tips on how to use it, plus a big hug and a glass of beer.