Ritz Camera: It’s Amazing They Lasted

Every time we’ve passed a Ritz Camera over the last couple years, the same thing has crossed our mind: “Wow! They’re still around, and they seem to be EVERYWHERE!” Well, that doesn’t look like it’s going to be the case anymore.

The retailer is closing its 400 remaining stores – another 400 were already shut down after going-out-of-business sales. As part of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the company has until the end of the month to auction off locations.

A tidbit we didn’t know: Ritz also owned the 130-store chain Boater’s World, which it is also in the process of shutting down.

No surprises with the Ritz action, as photo developing is available in the gazillion drugstores and discount stores across the country, and digital camera technology makes it more affordable to find quality cameras almost anywhere. It’s still sad that the niche couldn’t hold up, though.

Also, this isn’t great news for landlords, either. But they saw this coming, right?

11 Responses to “Ritz Camera: It’s Amazing They Lasted”

  1. 1 James July 9, 2009 at 8:31 am

    Technology is constantly, and sometimes at blinding speed, creating “buggy whip business”, unfortunately owner/investor capital was deployed in static assets, lease commitments, FF&E, inventory, etc. All illiquid, all obsolete in space and time. Technology destroys long standing assumptions and replenishes the market place with higher levels of efficiency, the “Camera Store” now lives in a virtual world that is available at everyone’s fingertips. Many other retailers are going to go the same route to oblivion. As a Landlord if you didn’t see this one coming you should consider taking up another trade.

  2. 2 Adrian July 9, 2009 at 11:01 am

    They should have kept the Boater’s World stores. That division was started by the son of the owner of Ritz as he was a boating enthusiast. They liquidated that profitable division to pay the debts of the parent.

  3. 3 J J Crossin July 9, 2009 at 3:31 pm

    In the final chapter, Ritz Camera took a slow boat(ers world) to Taiwan and Japan

  4. 4 RevolvingDoor July 9, 2009 at 9:40 pm

    James is correct. What he said reminds me of what the founder of the first REIT I worked for in leasing used to say: “Just remember, every tenant you sign up will one day go out of business.”

  5. 5 Jim July 10, 2009 at 7:38 am

    It is the inevitable cycle of life! Moto Photo, FotoMat, Kodak Photo Stores, Woolworths & Sears Photo departments, yadda yadda yadda. I wouldn’t want to be in the home coal delivery business, only the top Travel agents are still in their storefronts, etc. Hindsight is always easy, but you ride the horse you’re on as long as you can. You gotta execute your plan well enough and it needs a section for how you’ll enjoy your golden years after you’re “Prime Earning period” is over. How’s everybody’s 401K??

  6. 6 Ladislao July 10, 2009 at 12:28 pm

    The reason why they closed is because they were WAY OVERPRICED !!! Talk about ULTRA RETAIL. I would see their prices at their stores, then go to BestBuy and physically look at the same item to see if I liked it, then go home, get online to Amazon.com and buy what I was looking for. Or if I wanted to better protect myself if a product failed to work 4 to 5 years down the road I’d go to Costco and buy it because of their AMAZING warranty (Which, by the way currently nobody can beat). So if anything happened to my item let’s say 4, 6, 10 years later I would just return it to Costco and exchange it for whatever was the current model. About 2 years ago they changed that policy with certain electronics so they don’t do that with Cameras, Video Recorders, iPods, Computers anymore. But at least Costco has a FULL 3 year warranty on these products (6 month warranty on PCs). Which is STILL awesome.

    But back to the retail stores like Ritz Camera. We’re going to see many more stores go under here in the coming months. Just watch what happens. Thanks again, Ian for giving us the latest update… Later…

  7. 7 bear_m July 14, 2009 at 12:13 pm

    I did a lot of semi-pro photography that required me to travel a lot and I liked Ritz. Their service was friendly, their stock of merchandise was good, their prices were fair and they had a lot of locations. If I needed slide film, filters or a lens on the road, there was a usually Ritz around to help. I will miss them.

    They’re just another camera store in over-stored metro New York where I live, but elsewhere it was nice to have them.

    I think digital photography more than the internet shopping killed off camera stores. Once you get a good digital camera and lens, you really don’t need to head back to the camera store. Just my opinion.

  8. 8 Sh_D July 21, 2009 at 9:16 am

    What people don’t realize is people aren’t printing their pictures as much anymore. That is what helped fuel the business. Slowiy going away are family photo albums of previous generations to share with future generations. Most people store their photos on a computer and/or their camera memory cards. If the computer crashes…no access. Consider memories stored on 8mm movies, Beta, VHS. Unless you keep having them transferred to the newer technology. Prints…no need to transfer. Frameable. Put them in albums. How will future generations see the current ones?

  9. 9 James July 22, 2009 at 12:17 am

    Actually, Ritz Camera is still around. As of July 21, David Ritz, the owner of Ritz Camera worked out a bid to buy the company back after the finalization of the bid process by the federal court in the Chapter 11 process.

    We will know more as it comes up.


  10. 10 RFMoldaner July 24, 2009 at 7:19 am

    If anyone is surprised by this, they must be pretty naive. I saw this coming a week ago. A bankrupt businessman uses the online branch of his business (Ritz Interactive)to buy his assets at pennies on the dollar. Now he has all the mall landlords over a barrel, especially the ones that own several malls. They either renegotiate a better lease, or he walks away and they are stuck with empty spaces in a down economy. And all the vendors he stiffed, like Canon, to the tune of $20+ million? They’ll still sell him product, because they can’t afford to not have him carry their product. It may just be business, but I sure couldn’t look myself in the mirror every morning after that. As a small camera store owner myself, I’d rather be ethical and able to sleep at night, knowing I treated my customers right. And the truth is, if people would take the time to ask, we can be more flexible on our pricing than Ritz and the online stores. If you don’t believe me, check out our site at http://www.moldaners.com . Then, contact me about pricing and see what we can do.

  11. 11 Jayne Marquit July 28, 2009 at 11:04 am

    I trusted Ritz Cameras because of two really capable employees at the store on Cape Cod. Michael and Nick – they always did a perfect and fast job of printing our pictures. I never had a worry about any of our pictures, no matter how important they were, because of these two employees and now don’t know where to develop our pictures. Technology is not doing anyone any good. Pictures should be kept to last, not stored on a computer. That is just cold. Anyway, I wish Nick and Michael luck and hope they turn up somewhere else where I develop my pictures. They would be an asset to any photo developing store.

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