Ritz Camera Centers
|Industry||Photographic products and services|
|Headquarters||Beltsville, Maryland, United States|
|Key people||David M. Ritz (Chairman)
Stephen M. LaMastra (President)
Tom Hermann (CFO)
Richard Tranchida (EVP)
Ritz Camera & Image was a photographic retail and photofinishing specialty store, headquartered in Beltsville, Maryland. The company owned and operated a chain of 137 locations throughout the United States under the names Wolf Camera, Kits Cameras, Inkley’s, The Camera Shop, Inc., Cameras West, PROEX, and Boaters World. On September 10, 2012, the company announced that it would liquidate its assets after it failed to emerge from its second chapter 11 bankruptcy in four years.
The family-owned company (Ritz Camera Centers, Inc., predecessor in interest to Ritz Camera & Image, LLC) was founded as a portrait studio in 1918 by Benjamin A. Ritz, in the Ritz Hotel in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Whether the occasion was a wedding, graduation, or confirmation, the tradition in Atlantic City in the early 20th century was to have it captured with a B. A. Ritz portrait. In 1936, Benjamin and his brother Edward opened the first Ritz film-processing lab in Washington, D.C. Ritz Camera was headed by Edward's son, David Ritz.
Ritz Camera Centers, Inc. owed much of its expansion to the acquisition of its competitors. Ritz Camera's largest acquisition was Wolf Camera, which it acquired out of bankruptcy in 2001. Wolf Camera's financial difficulty was largely due to its own unprofitable $64.5 million acquisition of the 450-store Fox Photo chain from Eastman Kodak.
Wolf Camera had grown to approximately 700 locations, half of which had been closed by the time it was acquired by Ritz.
After the acquisition of Wolf Camera, Ritz Camera Centers claimed nearly 1,200 camera store locations. Owing to the decline of film and the strained economy, the company closed a number of stores between 2002 and 2005. The company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on February 22, 2009.
On June 22, 2012, Ritz Camera and Image filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for the second time.
Ritz Camera was the first chain photo-finishers to offer 4x6 prints from 35mm film, as well as free bordered prints, as standard. Ritz Camera is also the first national chain to offer 4.5x6, commonly known as 6D, prints. Unlike the traditional 4x6 prints used for film, Ritz's 6D prints reflect the different aspect ratio of 4:3 digital images. Ritz stores stocked 6D sized frames and albums.
In July 2003 Ritz Camera introduced Ritzpix.com, which also offers customers online ordering and in-store pickup within an hour. Ritzpix.com is currently powered by Lucidiom. In 2010, customers had an option on ritzpix.com to have an online order delivered next day to their home at no extra charge.
In May 2006 Ritz Camera announced a partnership with YesVideo to start offering same day DVD Transfers in all stores nationwide. These stores can transfer VHS, SVHS, MiniDv, Digital 8, and digital media to DVDs in about the time any particular tape takes to play.
In 2007 and early 2008, Ritz began installing Oki and Xerox equipment in their locations to enable the production of hard-back photo books, photo calendars, and custom greeting cards by customers via in-store kiosks or through RitzPix.com for in-store pick up. Ritz, along with Motophoto, are the only two national retailers to offer these services in a one-hour lab.
Beginning in 2008, Ritz began installing lamination/mounting machines in many of their stores to offer foamcore mounting and laminating up to 24x36 inch prints in store.
In February 2010, Ritz started offering Metallic Printing up to 30x40 size on Kodak Professional Endura Metallic Paper and Deep Matte Prints on Fujifilm Paper.
In May 2010, Ritz Camera started the Ritzpix Network, which for up to $20/month in imaging products, customers could get up to $100 off any qualifying camera. After multiple requests from customers, Ritz Camera & Image created the Ritz & Wolf Photo Patrol. Photo Patrol consist of Private Tutoring, four free Photography Classes with camera purchase, and 2 hr. seminar classes.
In 1999, David Ritz and others founded Ritz Interactive, Inc., an Irvine, California-based e-commerce company formed to bring the retail store brands to the internet. Despite the fact that the two companies share warehouse space and some personnel, Ritz Interactive and Ritz Camera Centers are officially separate companies.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Ritz Interactive Inc., which operates the websites for such retailers as Ritz Camera and Boaters World, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on August 19, 2011. The Irvine, Calif., company reported assets of about $809,000 and debts of $7.2 million in its bankruptcy petition, filed Friday with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana, Calif. Court papers show Ritz Interactive’s executive committee of its board of directors deemed the Chapter 11 filing “in the best interests” of the company, its creditors and stakeholders. Court papers show that David Ritz holds an 18.55% stake in the company. Among Ritz Interactive’s debts are a $3.55 million secured claim held by Ritz Camera. Ritz Interactive’s top unsecured trade creditors include American Express, owed about $434,000; Federal Express, owed nearly $104,000; and Google, owed more than $45,000. In May 2012, Ritz Interactive was acquired by Ritz Camera & Image.
2009 bankruptcy and purchase by RCI
On February 22, 2009, Ritz Camera Centers, Inc. filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. Chief Restructuring Officer Marc Weinsweig cited the 2008 ongoing recession caused Ritz's 2008 holiday sales to be "materially lower" than a year earlier. Boater's World also suffered heavy losses in 2008 as gas prices soared. On April 2, 2009, it announced the closure of more than 300 stores nationwide and the liquidation of its Boaters World subsidiary in an attempt to reorganize and emerge from bankruptcy.
On July 21, 2009, Reuters reported that a group called "RCI" had agreed to purchase the firm's remaining 375 stores for $33.1 million; the group included David Ritz. The group said it would attempt to keep all 375 stores open. The purchase agreement required approval of the bankruptcy court which was scheduled to hear the case on July 23.
In November 2009, the new company, Ritz Camera & Image, LLC (RCI) opened five new stores, with a total open of about 300, with a wider range of products, including televisions, compact laptop computers, and smartphones. Ritz filed for Chapter 11 in June 2012, with plans to close half of their remaining stores, bringing them to 137.
2012 bankruptcy and liquidation
On June 22, 2012, Ritz Camera & Image filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection again and closed 128 of its stores. On September 6, 2012, liquidation specialists Gordon Brothers Retail Partners LLC and Hilco Merchant Resources LLC won an auction for Ritz Camera's assets and began the process of closing most of the 137 stores that remained. New Jersey-based camera distributors C&A Marketing have acquired the online RitzPix business and will operate a few of the retail locations across the country.
On September 10, 2012, it was announced that all Ritz, Wolf and other associated subsidiaries would close by the end of October, while a few would reopen under C&A Marketing alongside Ritzpix & RitzCamera.com on November 1, 2012, and other stores were sold individually or in small groups to other retailers.
- Chicago Tribune (September 2012). "Ritz Camera to liquidate after 94 years". Retrieved 2012-09-11.
- Ritz Camera Company (July 2009). "Ritz Camera Company History". Retrieved 2009-07-015.
- Press Release (May 2006). "Ritz Camera Offers YesVideo DVD Transfer Products and Services". Retrieved 2006-05-08.
- Havlik, Dan (August 2003). "Ritz and Adorama Join Forces with Amazon.com". Imaging Business magazine. Retrieved 2006-09-05.
- Jonathan Stempel (February 2009). "Ritz Camera files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy". Reuters. Retrieved 2009-02-24.
- "Ritz Camera to Close More than 300 Stores Nationwide; Store Closing Sales Scheduled to Begin April 4". BusinessWire. April 2009. Retrieved 2009-04-26.
- "Ritz Camera president, group buys chain in auction". Reuters. July 21, 2009.
- V. Dion Haynes (December 28, 2009). "Ritz Camera aims to remake itself by diversifying its inventory". Washington Post.
- Joseph DiStefano (September 11, 2012). "Ritz Camera brand will survive liquidation". Philadelphia Inquirer. Retrieved September 11, 2012.
- Eli Zandman (September 12, 2012). "Another Dark Day For Retail as Ritz Camera Announces it Will Shutter All Stores". Tomorrow's News Today - Atlanta. Retrieved September 12, 2012.
- Online Digital Photo Printing Website for Ritz, Wolf, Inkleys, & Kits Camera Stores
- RitzPix.com commercial
- One Hour Guarantee commercial
- Big Enlargement commercial Link Removed
- PROEX Photo & Portrait
- Corporate site for Ritz Interactive, Inc.