Two Wolf Camera stores shutter
Two of the few remaining Wolf Camera stores closed earlier this week after struggling to remain relevant in a changing retail environment. The two stores were once part of the Wolf / Ritz Camera company and were among the few that had remained in business following the company's 2012 bankruptcy.
The stores, located in Buckhead and Homewood, a suburb of Birmingham, Alabama, reportedly closed on Monday and Friday respectively without fanfare or liquidation sales according to sources.
The company distributed the following email to customers informing them of the closures and offering incentives for their online patronage:
Dear valued customer,
We would like to extend our most sincere thanks to you, our valued customer, for your support over the years at Wolf Camera & Image. In the past couple years, we’ve seen our online divisions, RitzCamera.com and RitzPix.com flourish, while our local stores in Homewood and Atlanta have struggled.
While it is with heavy hearts that we close these stores, we hope you will continue to experience great savings and service from our online divisions.
As our way of saying, “Thank You for your support,” please enjoy this exclusive promo code: WOLFLUV which can be used at checkout on RitzCamera.com for 10% savings.
We hope you will also check out our online imaging center at RitzPix.com!
Michael Roth, Managing Director for Ritz Camera told The Homewood Star yesterday that while the Homewood store "performed above average for its industry, the overall outlook for brick-and-mortar camera stores is not optimistic." I was unable to find any current information on the health of the Buckhead store, but sources say it was targeted by criminals at least four times over the past few years including one break-in last year where a Dodge RAM truck was used to gain entry into the store.
Suffice it to say, the rash of break-ins paired with the rise of online shopping and advanced smart phone cameras, made the days of brick and mortar camera retailers numbered. Wolf's Buckhead closure comes on the heels of the recent announcement that Showcase Photo & Video would be shuttering their Atlanta shop after 40 years in business.
Chuck Wolf's Photo Design Bar, a new business the Wolf Camera founder opened in north Buckhead in early 2014, remains in business.
The Homewood Wolf Camera, on 18th Street South, had about four years left on a five year lease but opted to buy out its lease early and close. The property, located near the intersection of 18th Street and 28th Avenue was acquired, along with two other properties last month by a developer who plans to build new retail and restaurant properties as well as a large parking deck in their place.
The Buckhead Wolf Camera, located on Piedmont Road, about a block off of Peachtree, occupied a freestanding, 4,800 square foot building. The property could be appealing as a restaurant but its ample parking is currently used (by agreement) as overflow parking for adjacent eatery, Red Pepper Taqueria in the evenings.
***Editor's Note 1/21/17***
Although a release I obtained regarding the Homewood and Buckhead closings made it appear as though they were the final two stores in business, that is not true. The company continues to operate Wolf Camera and Image stores in Plano and Dallas, TX. The company also operates Ritz Camera and Image stores in Bethesda and Towson, MD as well as an Inkley's Photographic in Salt Lake City.
What would you like to see open in place of Wolf Camera in Buckhead? Are you surprised Wolf Camera stayed in business as long as it did? Have you become a patron of Chuck Wolf's Photo Design Bar?
Please share your thoughts below.