"After 75 years of business it is with a heavy heart that we announce our immediate closing in the United States (our European stores will continue). It has been a joy to share our passion for photography with you all of these years. We'll miss each other and we'll miss all of our customers. Thank you for everything." (Calumet Photo/Facebook)
Chicago founded and based Calumet Photographic (Known as Calumet Photo) closed its doors today. The store posted notice on their Facebook page at 8:45am. The website is down. No one answers the phone.
At 10:30 a.m. The Chicago Tribune reported the store's closure and its filing for Chapter 7 Liquidation.
I took a delivery of equipment from them two days ago. Lucky me.
Calumet Photo was founded by Kenneth Becker in 1939. Originally Calumet Manufacturing, the company sold sporting goods and travel cameras. They moved into manufacturing darkroom equipment, view cameras, and innovated lenses and other professional photographic equipment.
Over the years they transitioned from being a manufacturer to a full line retailer of cameras and equipment. More recently they acquired failing camera retail chains, including Ritz camera in Illinois. Calumet took over Ritz Camera's Rush Street store. This was a real boon to photographers working on the Near Northside, as they could drop in if they needed something quick.
Their Goose Island store on Cherry Street was a warehouse style mecca for photographers. It was literally one stop shopping. Beginners, hobbyists and professionals could find whatever they were looking for. From budget items to the costliest cameras and equipment. They also rented equipment locally and internationally. You could arrange to rent everything you need for a shoot in Europe and pick it up at a local outfit. No toting tons of gear through airports.
What really made Calumet Photographic shine was their staff. They were knowledgeable about photography the stock they sold. Some were specialists in certain equipment like lighting or printers.
The staff also could answer or get the answer to any question you may have, even the proverbial "stupid question" we all ask and claim does not exist.
The closing of Calumet is a loss to Chicago's photographic community. The oldest surviving camera store in Chicago is Central Camera in the Loop. They are one of the oldest businesses in Chicago.
Central Camera is still owned by the founding family, the Fleschs. I called Central to ask about the Calumet closing. The owner was not available.
Calumet posted the following on Facebook later in the morning:
"Stay tuned, as we are exploring opportunities to reopen select locations to keep serving our customers. We will post any updates here if there are any."
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