Biz Beat

May 24, 2014

Business Beat: Final clicks at Modesto Camera Center

The Modesto Camera Center, which dates back to 1946, will close late next month.

Biz Beat

Latest news from the Modesto-area business scene

When I was in high school, many an early morning or late night would find me at the Modesto Camera Center, dropping film through the little slot in the door to be processed for our yearbook. Yes, I am that old.

But not as old as the Camera Center, which dates to 1946. Sadly, however, there is an end date to the longtime local business, which announced last week it will close late next month.

“It’s just the right time,” said Glenn Graham. A 38-year-employee of the store, when I asked for his title, he said he’s officially corporate secretary. “But we’re just the guys and gals at the Camera Center.”

Jim Broome, who co-owns the Camera Center with his brother John, wanted to retire. They have run the store, which their father opened, for decades.

“Business has been good, but the change in the industry is making it very difficult for stand-alone camera stores to really thrive,” Graham said.

The Modesto Camera Center has had a long and colorful (and black-and-white, of course) history. It also had three locations at one point. I used to drop off film at the McHenry Village site, and Graham reminded me there was a store in Vintage Faire Mall until 1989, when the lease ran out.

But changes in technology, as well as the growth of superstores and Internet retailers that provide similar products and services, have made it more difficult to succeed as a specialty store.

“It’s kind of a natural and logical conclusion,” said Graham, who will turn 65 this summer and said he doesn’t mind the idea of retiring.

“It’s been your life for so long,” he said, “it’s kind of a sobering moment. But on the other hand, you get a chance to go out and play now.”

Elsewhere around the Business Beat

• Sometime around mid-July, you’ll be able to get your “Food Fix.” Hank Olson, who teaches culinary classes at the Institute of Technology in Modesto, succeeded in his effort to fund a gourmet food truck through the online “crowdfunding platform” Kickstarter.

In a little more than a month, Olson collected pledges of $19,379, well ahead of his $18,000 goal to create a food truck, where he plans to make everything from scratch.

“I’m still kind of in shock,” said Olson, who has been cooking since he got a job at a Foster Farms restaurant when he was 15.

It took a lot of work to make it happen.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” Olson said of Kickstarter. He had to come up with incentives for investors, everything from a sticker to a catered party, depending on how much a donor gave. And he had to keep his page updated.

Now, of course, the real work begins.

“I’m looking for a truck,” Olson said. Much of his equipment is in storage. He plans to keep his day job teaching for now, and hit the road with Food Fix on the weekends.

• If you’re looking for the opportunity to learn more about how things work around town, the Chamber of Commerce is accepting applications for its Leadership Modesto program. The 10-month program takes participants to various businesses and agencies throughout the area (their favorite day, I am sure, is the one spent with us at The Modesto Bee), to help them learn leadership skills and develop a network.

The chamber says that participants explore various areas of local and state government, as well as community service, education, law enforcement and agriculture, among other experiences.

The 10-month program begins in September. Applications are due June 2. For more information or to apply, go to the chamber website,, and click on the “programs” tab.

• And finally, who doesn’t like a farmers market? We are blessed in our area to have an abundance of them, offering fresh produce at reasonable prices that people in other areas of the country can only dream of.

Two new markets will join the crowd, giving us even more opportunities to pick up farm-fresh fruits and vegetables. The Modesto Certified Farmers Market, which runs each Thursday and Saturday on 16th Street in downtown Modesto, is expanding to Sundays at Vintage Faire Mall.

According to a news release from the mall, the market will include more than 25 vendors, as well as children’s activities, cultural events, cooking demonstrations and live music. It will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays, June 1 through Oct. 26, at the Village at Vintage Faire Mall, 3401 Dale Road.

A bit to farther to the north, Manteca will open its farmers market June 3. The market will run Tuesday evenings from 4:30 to 7:30 at Library Park through Aug. 26.

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