Jackson Camera, all over Columbia (1326 Main Street, 405 Greenlawn Drive, 625 Harden Street, Richland Mall, Dutch Square, Columbia Mall)q: 1990s 16 comments
When I was growing up, there were two kinds of photo-finishing. You could drop off your film at Campbell's Drugs, the Jackrabbit kiosk in Trenholm Plaza or K-Mart, but if you actually needed to talk to someone who knew something about photography, you went to Jackson Camera. At their height, they had stores all over Columbia. I can recall locations at Richland Mall (on the backside of the open-air corridor), Main Street, Five Points and Dutch Square.
The location I always visited was at Richland Mall. As a kid, I had gotten into developing and printing pictures. I can't remember exactly how, but I had already started fooling around with it when I "inherited" a bunch of (mostly hand-made) equipment from someone moving out of town to a smaller place. Originally I had no enlarger so I favored bigger-frame negatives like (the even-then archaic) 616 and slightly smaller 620 and 127 film sizes which made accptable contact prints. I'm afraid I pretty much ruined the finish on the kitchen counters with sloshing developer, stop-bath and "hypo" all over them -- the stains are there to this day. And really, there was no way to make the kitchen dark enough to be a "real" darkroom during the day (not surprisingly, my mother needed it to cook at night..), so my prints and negatives were always fuzzy, but I never hesitated to try again, and to ask for more advice down at Jackson Camera.
I'm sure the guy who was usually there, would look up, see me coming across the corridor and think Oh Lord, here we go again, but he and all the staff were always very patient and informative despite the fact that I took up way more of their time than my meager purchases of contact paper and chemicals would warrant. By middle school, I had more or less fallen out of the habit (and in high school, the darkroom had its own stock of chemicals and paper), so my visits to Jackson almost ceased.
Even as I moved out of town in 1985 though, the photo market was changing drastically. While the picture drop-off business had always (in my memory) been a chain dominated affair, in the 80s, national chains moved into the camera shop and specialty photo-finishing market. Wolf and Ritz were the big players, and when Ritz bought Wolf, they were the 500 pound gorilla that sleeps where it wants. Jackson kept on for years, but gradually closed more of their stores. The one pictured here is at the corner of Beltline Boulevard and Forest Drive, and is where, I believe, their Richland Mall shop moved when Richland Mall went to Richland "Fashion" Mall, driving out a number of stalwarts like Jackson Camera and The Happy Bookseller. Jackson finally sold out to Ritz a few years ago, and this location operated as a Ritz for a while, but with another Ritz just a few blocks away down Beltline, it didn't really make any sense to keep this one open.
Interestingly, as I went to take this shot, I saw that the follow-on business, some sort of beauty store is also closing up shop.
UPDATE 21 May 2010 -- Here's an ad from The State for 19 Feb 1979:
Also, I've added all the addresses from the ad to the post title.
UPDATE 3 December 2010 -- Here are two great shots of the Harden Street Store by Hunter Desportes on Flickr:
UPDATE 24 February 2013: I have added two pictures to the top of this post, above the one (of the beauty store) that the text of the post talks about. They come from commenter Thomas and were taken of the Main Street location in 1997. I love that huge marquee.. Thanks!