PetaPixel

Ritz Camera Files for Chapter 11 Again, Nikon, Sony and Fuji All Cringe

Ritz Camera and Image LLC officially filed for bankruptcy last Friday for the second time in three years. And while bankruptcy and financial trouble in general are, unfortunately, not uncommon in the world of photography these days, Ritz is making headlines because of their major unsecured creditors. Amon the biggest names on the list are Nikon, Sony and Fuji, all of whom stand to lose quite a bit of money as Ritz prepares to restructure.

According to the Washington Post, the company’s chief restructuring officer Mark Weinsweig said that May’s 20% increase in sales along with the recent $8-million dollar investment by Transcom Capital still weren’t enough to keep the company from having to file. From here on, Ritz plans to close 128 of its 265 stores, cut their sales force in half, and go up for auction in September. Sadly, Ritz Camera is just another in a series of brick and mortar camera stores that have had to close locations and restructure as phoneography and online sales continue to flourish — and it probably won’t be the last.

(via The Washington Post)


Image credit: Ritz Camera, NE corner of B’way & 88th by Ed Yourdon


 
  • http://twitter.com/intensitystudio Antonio Carrasco

    I would be ok with Ritz going under. Crappy selection, high prices… Don’t want all them people to lose their jobs though

  • Ritzer

    Just lost my job…

  • t_linn

    It was my impression that Ritz had high prices and poor selection before their first bankruptcy.  They came out of bankruptcy with big plans to continue doing what they’d always done.  This outcome seemed inevitable even then.  It’s a shame; competition is a good thing—as are jobs.

  • Mansgame

    If only Pentax and Olympus would make a comeback, Ritz would have the best selection in the world. 

  • http://profiles.google.com/ksuwildkat Rob S

    Crazy – Pentax, who got burned the last time Ritz filed – its trying to get BACK into B&M stores at the expense of online.  Maybe this will make them think twice.

    In my experience most B&M stores fail to understand that competing with online is not about price but about service.  People are more than willing to pay more if they get more.  Apple doesnt make anything that wins on price.  The Apple Store(s) dont compete on price.  Instead they offer the best service – for a price – and have the highest sales per square foot in retail.

  • Mark

    As an Amazon Prime member, I get free 2nd day shipping with easy returns, usually the lowest price available for new products and multiple listings of the same product from competing vendors. But beyond the prices and convenience, online shopping has one very important feature that you can’t find in a brick and mortar store: reviews from real customers. I can read through hundreds of reviews and make an informed decision without being pressured by a sleazy salesman.

    It’s over for these camera stores that aren’t doing business primarily over the internet. Adorama has a very significant presence on Amazon and for many photogs, B&H is their primary online retailer, or backup if Amazon doesn’t have a product they need.

    I admit that I would never have become a Nikon shooter had it not been for a trip to my local Wolf Camera back in the day–holding different brands is vital when making that first SLR purchase. But with stores like Best Buy, and most of your friends and neighbors owning all kinds of brands, the small shops are still rather irrelevant.

    The only successful store like this in my area has a monopoly. It’s got high prices and does not carry the Chinese rip-offs that are so popular these days. Really, it’s got four things going for it: specialty prints, older folks that don’t trust the internet, in-stock bodies that are usually sold-out online (Nikon), and their rental division. Beyond that, I’m not sure how they survive.

    RIP Wolf, Ritz, etc… I do miss the smell of a camera store. :(

  • Nonexpectedz3

    All big companies should suck balls. nice news.

  • JJ

    As a Ritz employee (one of the fortunate ones who survived), I’m sad at the ignorance of many people who welcome the thought of camera stores going extinct. (see aforementioned, stupid comment above). 

    It’s far too easy for folks to say “Just read online reviews of your camera”, “get real advice, not from sleazy salesmen”, “B&M stores are obsolete” etc- until they realize that camera stores AREN’T just for tech nerds, and efficient purveyors of the internet like ourselves. Let’s not take for granted the still present need for people (sometimes older, less well off) to get person to person advice and help when trying to capture their own memories. A good number of my customers are elderly people, just trying to figure out what a megapixel is. 

    Now, clearly, this isn’t the most efficient, or even sustainable business model, and Ritz is FAR from flawless in how it runs things. But- it just speaks to the larger, I feel, problem of us becoming less and less compassionate and more and more blindly autonomous consumers. It’s kind of sad.

  • Mark

     JJ,

    While I wholeheartedly agree that the lack of social interaction with personnel is a bad thing, I was simply stating an inevitability of the information age. I’m not singing a victory song or cheering for the demise of ANY business, especially in this economy. My post was not partisan, but was meant to be observation–that’s all. Please don’t align me with the likes of the troglodyte that posted the pap after my post. :)

  • http://twitter.com/ralphhightower Ralph Hightower

    Ritz/Wolf Camera closed a store near a thriving mall in Columbia, SC. Their only store remaining is in a “7-11 convenience store” sized storefront near a failing mall, a mall that saw its heyday in the late 60′s. I went there last year, looking for film; no luck finding film there. Their selection was limited in everything else.

    I predict that the Columbia store will close.

  • Cloverbjc

    i am going to step up here and give Ritz a +1 here since so many people here are dogging it. Ritz will always hold a little corner of my heart because of how awesome the store i went to was. yea prices were a little steep as a college student but they helped me out alot when i got started in photography. i would buy all my B&W Kodak *tear* film from them and eventually i bought my first Nikon there. D40. they gave me a slamming deal on it to. $400 for the body and TWO lenses. and this is about the time they started getting popular too. i never encountered a sleazy salesman. just a few helpful photog/tech nerds. granted Ritz as a whole has been sucking the last few years but honestly it was one of the best camera stores i shopped at.

  • No surprise

    Ritz has been horrifically mismanaged for a very long time. This isn’t anything sudden. It’s just the inevitable result of poor choices by some of the least qualified executives I’ve ever observed. (The CEO is in place because he’s the grandson of the founder and for no other reason, for instance. Managers are trained from frontline workers with no outside management training or experience. Employees treated as absolutely interchangeable/expendable. Customers are treated like money-machines (systematic switch to emphasizing only programs which generate cashflow with minimal or no hard costs associated, and precious little real-world benefit is to be had by the customer, despite lists of “benefits” touted by the salespeople. Just a few examples of the choices they are making. Short-term profits at the expense of quality customer relationships.) 

  • http://twitter.com/intensitystudio Antonio Carrasco

     I agree, it is good to have a physical store where you can go and touch the cameras and talk to a live human. For smaller items like paper, lightstands, etc, I usually buy from my local store.

    But retail stores are always going to lose out to internet companies on big-ticket purchases due to sales tax. If you are going to buy a $3000 SLR, most people don’t want to add $300 in sales tax on top of that.

  • http://twitter.com/JacksonCheese Jackson Cheese

    It’s been Amazon’s Show Room for quite a while now.

  • http://profiles.google.com/ksuwildkat Rob S

     JJ,

    I absolutely think there is place for B&M stores.  I think retailers like Apple and REI prove that B&M can compete and do well despite having prices higher than online.  What they lose on the price front, they make up in service and setup.  Go to either and you will find bright spaces with gear you can touch and try without being subjected to a hard sales pitch.  If you ask for help, you will get excellent assistance.  Additionally there are free and low cost classes available.

    Compare that to the last three Ritz/Wolf stores I have been in – dark spaces with most things behind glass cabinets guarded by sales people who are more interested in selling me on why I should switch from Pentax to Canikon.  “Classes” are expensive and taught in the same dark spaces by instructors of dubious qualification. 

    The world changed and the vast majority of photography stores failed to change with it.  Doom on them.

  • Mansgame

     If they actually had cameras that you could go touch and sniff without feeling like you’re buying a used car that would be one thing, but you guys have no stock except for Pentaxes or an entry level Nikon or Canon that Costco already has. 

    Most major cities have at least one go to locally owned camera shop anyway so if the need is urgent, they’re there. 

  • Mansgame

     Nah, that’s best buy :)

  • http://twitter.com/JacksonCheese Jackson Cheese

    Well, when it comes to DSLR’s I know a guy who used to go into Ritz  just to put his hands on it before ordering it on Amazon.

    Not me of course.  Another guy I know.

  • Wow

    I am simply amazed by some of the uninformed and outdated comments that I’m reading. Yes Ritz had a somewhat sketchy past primarily before the last chap 11. Ritz is not typically the highest price anymore their prices are very competitive to most B&M’s and even a lot of online retailers & they match online pricing. They have taken major steps to give their customers great service & treating staff with respect and making them feel valued. Now of course I’m sure that this not 100% across the country but most stores were in sync. Yes I work for Ritz and have been here for over 10 years and I can truly say that the company with its flaws over the years was truly going in the right direction.

    Yes some of the stores could use updating, and a lot of cosmetics were done this year although some major overhuals need to take place. Yes product availability has been an issue at times in some of our stores but the good stores and managers always found a way to take care of the customer.

    Most comments that I’m seeing on here appear to be from experiences in the past or former associate that never got to experience the new Ritz Camera. We did what some said could not be done we rebuilt this company and made a profit last year by the way. We just didn’t cut deep enough fast enough.

    Needless to say whatever happens this has been a great company to work for!

  • http://www.facebook.com/aarontsuru Aaron Tsuru

    I think Ritz will go the way of the record & book stores. The big boys will probably fade out, losing to successful online shops like Amazon, etc. But, just like with record & book stores, small independent shops will thrive for the geeky types who love to hang out in the shops, talk shop, touch the product, and buy stuff. It will be super niche and only a small number of jobs compared to places like Ritz, but I guess it’s better than nothing….

  • 1398

    Not enough l/c/v? or maybe no ESP’s (at a 5yr mark)? or how about pushing that network…. didn’t push enough?
    That’s why i kinda was glad to get laid off, it started getting pretty impersonal with customers, the frontiers were always and inch away from breaking down.
    But yet two years before being told we were turning a profit, then why didn’t we have any stock to sell or parts for the machines? Oh well…
    FOR printing though, taking a shot in Adobe RGB color profile then printing it online, tell me what color it comes out and then send it back, at a wolf camera…. give me 5 minutes, color adjusted and reprinted.
    That’s what i miss, helping people and telling them “no your camera isn’t broke and no you don’t need a new one, its the color profile on your dslr, give me a sec.”.
    Meanwhile new guy, finished with the online training on the sid would have said… “OH, yea it looks like the camera sensor might have went, well your going to either send it out costing this much (for the repair)… OR, Buy a new one with an ESP, the repair would have been covered with an ESP if it ever happened again. Also we have the network….” etc…. etc…

    I liked having customer loyalty through honesty, not just a sale.

    hmmmmm…. yea half the company lost their jobs, again.

  • Sad

    I agree with you 100%. I was an employee from 2006 to 2009 until my store closed down due to the 1st bankruptcy. I have been back 3 months only to find out it is almost inevitable that the new store I am at will be closing in a few short weeks. I love my job and my customers, former and new, I wonder if these online stores offer the kind of help we have, for example, twice this week I have had customers come in to get enlargements and have them mounted and framed for a loved one’s memorial service within a little over an hour. Obviously that’s not available online. What about all the elderly people we help ? A lot of them don’t even have computers or internet. In my opinion we are an imaging company that sells cameras, while Walgreen’s , Walmart and CVS are retail stores that just happen to have printing services. There is a BIG difference !

  • DCPhotog

    If I’m being honest, I hate this company…There are a few good people and NEWER salespeople that were pretty cool and ethical…However, the majority of the staff are longtime “homers” and robots who would do any and everything to turn a profit-no matter how unscrupulous…Sad, as that behavior starts at mgmt and trickles down to new hires…Employees have to beg and plead for any competitive compensation and there is constant pressure to push the highest profit margin items–even if the product is substandard and downright not of even decent quality. Ritz cares absolutely nothing about or for its employees, and feels each and everyone is replaceable and expendable on a weekly basis…Horrendous business model and only suitable for part time kids looking for a little beer money for the weekend….Sad, but true.

  • DcPhotog

    As someone stated before me, Ritz will just continue to do what they’ve always done…They are making a mockery of the bankruptcy courts, and will continue to stiff companies like Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, and now Sony…Think canon learned their lesson, but can never be too sure…Ritz is slick, and they’ve been doing this shenanigans for a long time…Some companies are stuck and have no choice but to get stiffed once again if they plan on recouping any monies at all…Oh well…Ritz started in a basement and David won’t stop until he’s the last one standing in the basement again.