The Story of Service Photo! (part 1)

Our new website brings a new opportunity to let everyone know what’s happening at Service Photo. This blog should be a great way for me to communicate many different types of events , notices – and just my thoughts – to those associated with Service Photo. In the future, look for new product announcements, updates on many different issues, and the rambling thoughts of retailer. But, first things first – the history of Service Photo.

60+ years ago, Service Photo was a neighborhood camera shop and wholesale photo lab that did work for other camera stores. As time moved on, the wholesale lab was closed and the retail operations expanded into 3 stores throughout Baltimore that concentrated on photofinishing & cameras for local consumers.

I started working full time at Service Photo in 1986. It’s not something that I necessarily wanted to do, but I knew how to do it – since I had worked many previous Summers at the different stores. Almost immediately, I saw a need for a different type of camera store in Baltimore – a store that served the needs of professional photographers. I started changing product offerings & price structures to better serve the Pro’s. The new structure worked for the customers, but didn’t necessarily work well with the other stores owned by my family. The decision for me was simple – I needed to purchase the business from my family & make it my own. Or, I would have to strike out on my own with a new business that would compete with my family’s business. I ended up purchasing Service Photo in 1991 after prolonged & not-so-friendly negotiations.

I paid way too much money for a business that was in serious trouble, and at 27 years old I was in serious debt. But, I knew that Service Photo would succeed with a little hard work & dedication. The ’90’s saw Service Photo become a large dealer for Kodak, Fuji, Ilford, Polaroid, and just about every brand of gear used by professional photographers. By 1996, Service Photo was in good financial shape, had a great location on Charles Street near all of the Pro labs, and was working with all types of professional photographers, government agencies, schools & students, and a handful of photo enthusiasts. We had a solid staff (still do), and our initial financial struggles had helped us forge solid relationships with our vendors. We were now in a position to grow with the help of our vendors & customers.

(to be continued)

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