Ritz Camera goes bankrupt — again
By Andrew Hudson Published: June 26, 2012 Updated: March 25, 2016
Ritz Camera & Image, LLC — America’s “largest specialty camera and image chain” — filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on June 22, 2012, for the second time in three years.
Ritz Camera previously filed for bankruptcy in 2009. The sister company Ritz Interactive declared bankruptcy in 2011 and was bought just four months ago by Ritz Camera. Based in Beltsville, Maryland, the chain will close about half its current 265 stores which operate under names including Ritz Camera, Wolf Camera, and The Camera Shop.
“With the overhead we had, we had to exit the less profitable stores. It just didn’t work. So we decided to file.”
— Marc Weinsweig, chief restructuring officer for Ritz Camera, June 22, 2012.
Ten years ago, Ritz Camera ruled the mall-based camera business with almost 1,200 stores. Only one-tenth of those will remain when the company goes up for auction in September 2012.
|The Rise and Fall of Ritz Camera|
|1918||0||Benjamin Ritz opens a portrait studio in the Ritz Hotel Atlantic City, New Jersey.|
|1936||1||Benjamin Ritz and his brother Edward open a photo processing lab in Washington, D.C.|
|1974||Edward Ritz’s nephew, Chuck Wolf, founds competitor Wolf Camera by acquiring and renaming nine Ritz Camera stores. By 1990, Wolf Camera has 100 stores.|
|1978||Edward Ritz’s son, David Ritz, “took the leadership of Ritz Camera in the 1970s and made the company his own with an aggressive acquisition strategy.”|
|1980s||100||David Ritz “grows the company to nearly 100 stores by the mid 1980s.”|
|1986||Fox Photo, another competitor, is bought by Kodak. The stores are sold in 1987, bought in 1991 by CPI, and acquired again by Kodak.|
|1987||Ritz Camera acquires Boaters World, a marine and boat supply store, later blamed for the 2009 bankruptcy.|
|1990||Wolf Camera has 100 stores.|
|1996||Ritz Camera Centers purchases Inkely’s Camera of Salt Lake City, UT.|
|1997||+140||Ritz Camera Centers acquires Kits Camera, Inc. (140 stores) of Seattle, WA.|
|1998||+83||Ritz Camera Centers acquires photographic stores from Fuji (83 stores).|
|1998 Jul||810||Fox Photo (449 stores) is bought by Wolf Camera (317 stores) from Eastman Kodak for $64.5 million. The purchase, however, is later called “ “ by Chuck Wolf. “The acquisition places Wolf just below Ritz Camera Centers … [which] has about 810 locations.”|
|1999||+72||Ritz Camera Centers purchases The Camera Shop, Inc. (72 stores).|
|1999||Ritz Interactive founded as a separate e-commerce business by David Ritz.|
|2001 Jun||Wolf Camera Inc. (538 stores).|
|2001 Oct||900||Ritz Camera (900 stores) buys Wolf Camera (385 stores) out of bankruptcy for $84.7 million|
|2002 Nov||1,200+||Ritz Camera is #180 on Forbes’ list of largest private companies. “Ritz now has over 1,200 stores in 48 states and estimated revenues of $1.34 billion” according to Forbes.com|
|2005||1,200+||“Ritz Camera [is] the largest retail camera and photo chain in the United States, with more than 1,200 locations in 45 states and the District of Columbia” according to a company press release.|
|2006||Ritz Camera Centers creates RitzPix.com, an online imaging store.|
|2008||Losses at Boaters World loss imperil Ritz Camera. “When gas prices hit $4 a gallon, boating died.”|
|2008||1,200||Ritz Camera Centers claims to have nearly 1,200 camera store locations.|
|2009 Feb||800||Ritz Camera Centers, Inc. (the camera-store chain) declares bankruptcy.|
|2009 Apr||400||Ritz Camera Centers closes 300 stores.|
|2009 Jul||375||Ritz Camera exits bankruptcy protection in a $33 million buyout by RCI, a group including Ritz Camera President David Ritz. The company is renamed Ritz Camera & Image, LLC.|
|2010||300+||“Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image … operates more than 300 stores” according to a press release.|
|2011 Aug||Ritz Interactive (the separate e-commerce business) files for bankruptcy.|
|2012 Feb||Ritz Camera & Image, LLC. buys Ritz Interactive, including the RitzCamera.com, WolfCamera.com, CameraWorld.com and PhotoAlley.com e-commerce web sites. The price is the subordination of the $3.5 million Ritz Interactive owes Ritz Camera plus cash to make payments to creditors.|
|2012 Jun||265||Ritz Camera & Image, LLC. files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.|
|2012 Sep||167||Ritz Camera & Image, LLC. is due to be auctioned.|
“We’re not a camera store anymore — we’re an image store. We sell all products that allow you to either take, share, create or view your images.”
— David Ritz, Washington PostDecember 2009.