Calumet Photographic Inc., now headquartered on Bliss Street in Chicago, Illinois, USA, just announced the closing of its U.S. stores. The announcement appeared on its Facebook page this morning, and its extensive website is no longer online.
The company filed for bankruptcy yesterday.
As near as I can figure, the announcement affects Calumet's 12 U.S. stores, whereas 20 European locations will continue in business. (But don't quote me on those numbers—they're derived from the Wikipedia page.)
Calumet Photo, which was founded in 1939 by Kenneth Becker, was for many years based in a large combined office/retail complex in Bensenville, Illinois, northwest of Chicago. It began by catering to large format photographers, and made its own line of large format cameras until 1983. It also marketed a well-known line of rebranded view camera lenses called Caltars. The stores were active in photographic education, hosting classes and demonstrations. Most stores had classroom space, where the public was welcomed at no charge.
Calumet had previously absorbed a number of stores orphaned by the bankrupcies of once-well-known chains such as Ritz Camera, and Penn Camera in the D.C. area.
(Thanks to Oren Grad)
UPDATE 1:45 a.m. Friday: "Zane (formerly?) from Calumet here. I ran our site. I'm also a longtime TOP reader.
"This has been very, very hard. There's been a lot said about Calumet on the web today, and I have to say that I can't thank everyone that has left positive comments enough. I think the web makes it easy to be negative, to say things while forgetting they can impact real people. A lot of people have been trying very hard to be a successful company. On behalf of everyone at Calumet, I thank you for caring about us and our employees.
"Calumet started 75 years ago as a company making darkroom sinks, and since then has done everything from making 4x5 cameras to being one of the first retailers selling digital cameras. We were one of the first retailers to sell online, actually, opening a site before Amazon even started selling books. The photo world has changed immensely over our 75 years, and we've loved being a part of it and helping photographers find the right gear for the image they want to make.
"This has taken everyone by surprise, from the top to the bottom. Chapter 7 is very abrupt and we are still seeing what will happen. We are hopeful that there will be another chapter in our long history, but only time will tell."
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Featured Comments from:
Tom Kwas: "This is a horrific development in the world of photography. Calumet used to be the 'nice-guys' of the photo business, and I spent many years happily ordering from them.
"I have to say, within the last few years, though, they just didn't seem to keep up with the promotional deals and shipping values of B&H. I was always amazed that B&H could ship something to me from NYC in three days for six bucks, while Calumet shipped to me from 90 miles away, smaller packages, for 12–15 dollars! I also was pretty upset with them letting their San Francisco store really fall down a lot from that usual Calumet attitude and service. It was pretty bleak there, and after a few upsetting rentals on location jobs, I had to switch over to Adolph Gasser. Still, they will be much missed. Wonder who's going to repair my Travelites now?!"