For the first time in decades, there won’t a brick-and-mortar Ritz Camera store in operation. The last location, at 6917 Arlington Road, Bethesda, Md, closed last week, according to Bethesda Magazine. The RitzCamera.com e-commerce site remains in operation, according to the company.
C&A Marketing (now C&A Global) operated Ritz Camera stores as a subsidiary since buying the assets out of bankruptcy in 2012.
“It’s been great to be here all these years,” store manager Michael Marshall said Tuesday. “Unfortunately, times change, things change and it’s the end of an era for Ritz in Bethesda.”
Marshall said it was a corporate decision to close the store.
“In the past couple years, we’ve seen our online division RitzCamera.com flourish while our store in Bethesda has struggled,” the company wrote in an email sent to customers.
Long legacy of retail leadership
The closure brings to an end one of the longest-running and successful retail operations in U.S. history. Founded in 1918 by Benjamin Ritz as a portrait studio in New Jersey, and in 1936, Edward Ritz opened a photo lab in Washington, D.C. By the last 1970s, Eddie Ritz’s son, David, took a leadership role in the company. Organic growth was driven by the one-hour minilab boom and through acquisitions of some of the biggest names in camera stores, Ritz Camera grew to more than 1,200 location be 2002. The company expanded into other areas, including the Boater’s World Discount Marine Center chain, and RitzPix.com online photofinishing.
The great recession contributed to Ritz Camera’s troubles and in 2009, the then-800 location Ritz Camera filed bankruptcy for the first time. A group led by David Ritz bought the company in 2009, and rebranded the smaller operation (about 300 stores) as “Ritz Camera & Image.” Three years later, the company filed bankruptcy again, only to be acquired by C&A Marketing. At the time, most of the 130-plus retail stores were closed, with a handful remaining open.