Closed Penn Camera store on 18th Street NW in Washington

Sad news from the Washington, DC area.  Penn Camera — my “go to” equipment supplier for a major part of my photojournalism career — shuttered five of its eight stores and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month.

“A dramatic decline in sales performance during the preceding holiday period has precipitated this action,” the company announced on its web site.

The bulk of the company’s employees are on the street, looking for work.  Those lucky enough to still have jobs say the remaining stores will probably close in the near future.

The company sold to consumers but gained its reputation for its service to the professional photographer.  During our time in Washington, Jeff Snyder served the needs of working photojournalists.

Jeff kept me stocked with Nikon gear for many years.  I bought my first digital single-lens reflex camera — a Nikon D1 — from him and when I switched from Nikons to Canon in 2004 he gave me good prices on the new equipment.

Jeff moved on to Adorama not long after we moved to Floyd County.  I followed him to his new gig.  With no professional camera outlet near here I depended on Adorama and other suppliers for equipment that arrived via FedEx or UPS.

With Penn Camera’s problems, I wonder about the future of other shops that cater to professionals.  Online retailers now offer pro equipment at prices that are too often less than the pro discounts we used to enjoy from retailers like Penn, Adorama, Roberts Camera and others.

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