Today, Penn Camera announced that it is declaring bankruptcy after lower-than-expected holiday sales. This is particularly sad thing to hear. I've been a patron of Penn Camera since I started in photography in high school, and even before that when I was working as an apprentice to my godfather, also a photographer.
Penn Camera has been an amazing resource for photographers and enthusiasts for years. My sincere hope is that through their reorganization and with a bit of creative ideas, Penn Camera can return to profitability and thrive in the new digital photography space.
One suggestion I've long had is to completely re-think their equipment rental strategy and operate that portion of their operations like the successful LensProToGo.com. Requiring deposits equal to the value of the equipment—as Penn does now—completely defeats the purpose of renting equipment.
Another suggestion is for them to re-imagine their retail space that is more consumer-focused than the stores are currently. The greatness of Penn Camera comes from their extremely knowledgeable staff who are photographers and enthusiasts themselves.
I hope that this move isn't the first nail in the coffin. It will be a sad day in Washington DC's photographic community without Penn Camera.
Below is the message Penn posted on its website:
Penn Camera Exchange Inc., with eight retail stores in the Washington DC metropolitan area, and fixture since 1953, regretfully announced on Wednesday January 4th 2012 that it has filed for bankruptcy protection under Chapter 11 of the United States Bankruptcy Code. Five locations will be closed immediately and we will hold a special clearance sale at our E Street, Rockville and Tysons locations.
A dramatic decline in sales performance during the preceding holiday period has precipitated this action.
It has been an honor and a privilege to serve the photographic needs of this community for nearly sixty years. We extend our deepest gratitude to our many employees and wish for them a smooth transition.
Customers that have repairs, processing or other business related items located in the stores that have closed may pick up their property as indicate below:
Pikesville and Laurel: At the Rockville location Rockville Federal Plaza Manager: Brian Z. 12266-F Rockville Pike Rockville, MD 20852 301-231-7366
Fairlakes and Springfield: At the Tysons location Tysons Corner Manager: Ramona S. 8357-E Leesburg Pike Vienna, VA 22102 703-893-7366
18th Street: At the E Street location E Street Manager: Kim P. 840 E Street NW Washington, DC 20004 202-347-5777
Please allow us until Monday 1/9/12 to transfer and stock all items to the proper location. The individual stores will probably not be able to answer specific question until 1/9/12. Until that time please E-mail inquiries to email@example.com. Telephone inquiries can be left at 301-210-7366 x 100 and will be answered in turn. A fax inquiry can be sent to 301.210.7370.