One of Oklahoma City's few remaining mom-and-pop photography stores, Pipkin Cameras and Imaging will pull the shutters June 30, closing the business after 63 years.
Owner Peggy Pipkin Grace, daughter of the business' founders, said it has been too difficult for the Classen Boulevard icon to compete with online and major national retailers.
Over the years, the business has repaired 500,000 cameras. But the newer digital cameras are often replaced rather than repaired.
Also, as photography trended to digital, people started printing their photos less. Both trends hurt business.
"We kind of felt like a dinosaur in the middle of the road for a long time,” Grace said.
Pipkin Cameras was founded by Bud (M.L.) and Edwina Pipkin in 1947. The business had several locations over the years but has been in its current location at 3111 N Classen Blvd. for four decades.
The store's remaining inventory is discounted in preparation for the business' closure. Shelves are still stocked with camera relics, some as old as the 1900s, and accessories from the not-so-distant past — such as flash cubes.
Modern digital accessories such as camera bags, batteries and flash cards are also available.
Grace said the store tried to keep up with technological changes to the photo industry, such as providing digital photo processing and image recovery — even starting a Facebook page. But it has been tough to survive without a steady stream of business film processing jobs.
"That was the bread and butter of the industry,” she said.
With digital, consumers print their photos less often — the biggest and most dramatic trend to change photography, said Dimitrios Delis, marketing research director for the Photo Market Association.
When they do print, "amateur” photographers often use a kiosk or mini lab at a drugstore or major retailer instead of a specialty camera store. The number of photo prints made by consumers is now half of what it was ten years ago, he said.
Remaining specialty camera stores mostly depend on the business from advanced photo hobbyists, including college students. And many stores have not been able to survive. Delis said the population of specialty photo retailers has dropped by one third, from more than 6,000 in 2000 to about 2,000 today.
• Location: Pipkin Cameras 3111 N Classen Blvd.
• Hours: 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday,
9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday. Closing June 30.
Epperson Photo-Video, at 3110 N May Ave., is one of the last independent photo stores in Oklahoma City.
Owner Cliff Epperson said surviving the industry's shift to digital has been a challenge.
The store's consistent advertising and specialty services, such as canvas or extra large prints, have continued to get customers in the door.
"We're still surviving and making a profit. But we're doing 80 percent of what we used to do in our best years,” he said.
Epperson actually worked for Pipkin Cameras in 1963. That job convinced him to go into the photo business and open his own store in 1972, he said.