Let me begin by saying that it's March and not April 1st, because what I'm about to reveal is not a joke. After 75 years of business, Calumet Photographic is closing their U.S. stores. This morning they announced through Facebook their "immediate closing in the United States".
After reading this I could barely believe it, I live in Chicago where their major headquarter is, so I picked up the phone and tried calling, but no response. I tried rentals, sales and any number I could find to make sure the information I was reading through Facebook was correct.
After getting in contact with a few assistants in the area, I discovered it was true. Nobody could get their rentals. Nobody is answering the phone. Calumet Photographic is closed. Facebook is blowing up with unanswered questions "What about my rentals?" "What about my orders?" "What about compensation for the employees?" I guess we won't know any answers to these questions until they issue a major press release or someone gets in touch with a Calumet Representative.
What do you think this means for our industry?
As commenters Frank and John Harrington point out below - Chapter 7 Bankruptcy paperwork has been filed.
Oof. That's really sad.
wow. sad in many ways. Calumet saved Penn Camera in DC from closing by buying them from the previous owners in financial troubles. This means DC will have no camera stores other than best buy and an occasional Ritz Camera. Calumet Los Angeles used to rent me my gear. Those guys were great. RIP calumet US
Douglas, don't forget Ace Photo in Ashburn. Looks like it's our only good choice around here now.
Of course! How could I forget about Ace Photo!! Arg [facepalm] Its a really nice shop.
Ace also does rentals thought their own programs and they also work with BorrowLenses but definitely sad to see Calumet go...
This only works if you own a car, duh
BorrowLens.com they rent in US don't they?
Well, let's see - there's ProPhoto right in the heart of downtown DC (http://prophoto-dc.com) and DC Camera (http://www.dc-camera.com) out where you used to have studio space in Fairfax.
Hello John Harrington. Glad to see you read our articles here on Fstoppers. I completely forgot about Ace Photo, a really nice shop. I no longer live in the DC area and was unaware of those shops (DC camera and ProPhoto) but I certainly will put them on my roster to check out next time I pass through the DC area!
Thanks for great tips on alternatives around DC. I am in NOVA and always went to penn/calumet in tysons... ARGH! Is the physical store closed? Does it mean there'll be sales? ;)
sad, right? I bought my first Canon Film SLR camera from Penn Camera Tysons (their old location right next to Tysons Mall near 495) around 16-17 years ago
So, just like that? Physical stores closed? I was just going to make a run there to pick up some seamless and other stuff... Any ideas on their inventory? Would there be a sale at the store by any chance? Sad....
Mine was from the Fair Oaks store, eight years ago, and several film cameras along the way. I stopped buying bodies and lenses there when I made a friend at Canon who has gotten me most of the gear I shoot with today at heavy discount, but I have continually been a Penn / Calumet patron for accessories and lighting, because I've feared the downfall of brick and mortar camera stores for many years.
Wow, believe it or not that leaves Chicago no with major photography stores. There are a couple rental companies and Central Camera Company which has been around since 1900 but I've never liked going to that place.
Dodd Camera is pretty darn good. I've always liked their staff more than Calumet.
They are. I just had much time to go there. Calumet was always an easier trip. Please I didn't have insurance to set up an rental acct :(
Well, if you don't have insurance it's time to get it. Let me know if you need a good recommendation for an agent we have one that's pretty stellar.
i'd love the recommendation! am currently knee deep in insurance shopping.
Be glad you don't live in Denver.
Sooooooo where does that leave studios like mine, with over $150,000 in equpment purchased and serviced through them? nobody said a damn thing.
I have a $900 credit with them - I really hope they compensate me now
Not going to happen unfortunately. They filed for Chapter 7 and have over $1,000,000 in liabilities with less than $50k in assets. If you get anything, it will be pennies on the dollar.
this says they have way more. There are multiple filings.
Ha! Thomas - looks like we read the same sites. I was the one who commented on the Trib site about the multiple filings. Weird that I replied to Aaron and its just showing up under yours(which i didnt see earlier either).
Lesson: don't hold onto store credit forever. Jeebus, people.
I'll stop by the one in LA to see if I can find out anything. I'm surprised there isn't even a "going out of business" announcement. Odd for a company to just immediately shut its doors.
Wow! My Calumet charge card had allowed me to finance equipment when needed. I wonder why the sudden closing? While they could be prickly with inexperienced customers, they were always very helpful if you knew what you were looking for. Maybe I just answered my own question.
Yeah, I always kinda liked the grumpy disposition. The guys at the Cambridge MA store were like grouchy uncles; they wanted you to do well, but you had to give them a little space to growl at you.
Yeah. That was my store, too. If you knew what you were talking about, you got great service, but I did feel for the unsuspecting customer that had really basic questions, but got snippy answers from some of them. As a total noob, that would have put me off.
I think that has a lot to do with why Hunt's has actually been growing, which is kind of contrary to the rest of the shop industry. They must have 5 or 6 shops in the 95 corridor now. But I've watched some of their reps REALLY take a good amount of time with someone who is obviously a little lost, and makes sure they walk out with at least an idea of what they should be looking at.
You're absolutely correct. I was in Hunt's last week because I was in the area. I was amazed at how much patience and care a befuddled, older customer was being shown. They were also great with me, too, and I had some picky product questions that had them running around quite a bit.
Even though I knew what I was talking about, they treated me like a lost little girl. I wanted to love Calumet in Cambridge but they would never take me seriously.
That's too bad, Rebecca. It's stuff like that that drives me crazy, and very likely helps kill a company.
They already pulled down the website!
I have a feeling we are going to hear from a lot of angry customers this week... let's hope Calumet will do the right thing/s and make sure they ship out whatever was already ordered, and take care of any issues clients had before the announcement.
Philadelphia definitely doesnt have anyone to fill this gap. looks like online lens rentals is the to go for now.
Morgan, try Allen's Camera in Levittown PA http://allenscamera.com/ . I've gotten great service from them.
I'm friends with the people at the Chicago Goose Island location, i am saddened about the sudden closing of all the stores and praying for all the people affected.... The chicago store was a home for all Chicago Photographers when all the other stores closed.... Most of us rented and bought our gear from Calumet.... I am hoping something can be salvaged from this... and someone else buys the stores in the US.
Everyone doesn't really understand that the company has been in trouble for years. As soon as they brought in execs from a bankrupt company (Ritz), they sealed their fate.
oh well.... hopefully BH or adorama doesn't close on us
B+H & Adorama have very different business models than Calumet and have successfully integrated themselves so completely into the ether of photography education + online that I wouldn't worry about them at all.
The combination of big retailers like Adorama,b&h plus internet giants like Amazon, with new internet rental houses borrowlenses bought down a big company like this. Blame it on the inability/slow reaction of the company to adapt to the new internet business environment and all that jazz. You know the rest
and fstoppers getting money from Adorama and B&H links...
read their yelp reviews. Rude staff that apparently were doing you a favor by taking your money brought them down
Unfortunately, they have filed for Chapter 7 Bankruptcy: http://business-bankruptcies.com/cases/calumetphoto-com-llc
There is more than one filing. Can we get this on the original article so people can see instead of posting just the LLC one?
Court documents and additional details here - http://photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/2014/03/calumetphoto-chapter-7-ba...
What???? $50k in assets and over $1 million in liabilities?