A while back, I was lamenting the loss of the last photographic repair shop in the Roanoke Valley with the bankruptcy of the national chain Ritz Camera. Ritz had pretty much shut down all of Roanoke's locally-owned camera shops when it bought out home-grown Ewald-Clark some years ago. A couple of Ewald stores closed quickly, others took the new logo. The rest of the small camera stores in the area eventually withered and died, as well.
Now, because camera shopping has become almost exclusive to the Internet and because photo processing (that would be film processing) is almost non-existent, Ritz is in the toilet, as well. The result: no local camera shop service for printing non-digital photos, repairing cameras, getting advice on what to buy--and all the other service-related stuff.
So, who comes to the rescue? The Internet. I was desperately searching for a camera shop to repair my favorite lens a week ago (I dropped my camera on the street and it hit lens-first; the lens is like the one pictured here) and typed in "camera lens repair Virginia," coming up with one or two shops, notably Strauss-Photo Technical Services in Virginia Beach. I called and got a "this number has been disconnected" recording. I was pretty solidly disappointed until I returned to the Web site and found another Strauss in D.C. I called and dang if it wasn't open and ready for bid-ness.
I sent my lens up there a few days ago and today I got a call back with an estimate of $150 (including shipping) to repair this $900 lens. I was tickled to death. Ritz would not even accept a lens to evaluate for repair without a stiff advance fee, generally what a clerk expected it might cost to repair. It also required as long as six months to fix a lens (which I use in my work and really need NOW). So far, this has taken a week and I haven't paid a penny. I offered to give the man who called me today a credit card number and he said, "That won't be necessary until we are successful in repairing the lens."
Oh, my goodness. Not only a responsive shop, but a courteous one.
If you shoot, take down this name and number:
Strauss Photo-Technical Services
1240 Mount Olivet Road NE
Washington D.C. 20002
The Web site is here. Keep these people in business!