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Jackson Camera, all over Columbia (1326 Main Street, 405 Greenlawn Drive, 625 Harden Street, 3407 Forest Drive, Richland Mall, Dutch Square, Columbia Mall)q: 1990s   17 comments

Posted at 6:24 pm in historic,stores

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:

outside

inside

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!

UPDATE 23 February 2014 -- The Forest Drive store is now Troy's Cutting Edge barber shop:

p1120353_tn.jpg

p1120354_tn.jpg

17 Responses to 'Jackson Camera, all over Columbia (1326 Main Street, 405 Greenlawn Drive, 625 Harden Street, 3407 Forest Drive, Richland Mall, Dutch Square, Columbia Mall)q: 1990s'

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  1. I went to the Jackson Camera at Richland Mall many times. There was a very quiet bald man who ran that store. He was German or Swiss.

    Richland Mall was built in the very early 60s, and was really a couple of strip malls set facing each other. It probably would not be called a mall today, since it had no roof. While my mom was grocery shopping, my sister and I would kill time by making the circuit and visit every single store, in order, so we could cool off from the blazing heat outside. I bet that even now I could draw a map of the place and name every store.

    When I was older I would ride my bike there constantly for every little thing I or anyone else in the house needed. We lived near the corner of Beltline and Covenant Rd.

    One summer I worked at the Redwood Cafeteria, and for most of high school I worked in the Riverboat Tea Room, the restaurant upstairs in J.B. Whites.

    I saw many movies at the Richland Mall Rocking Chair Theater. They had Saturday morning matinees with hundreds of us screaming kids dropped off by their parents.

    Dennis

    23 Aug 08 at 8:09 am

  2. Jackson Camera was the last (only?) place I can recall that did prints with white borders. I would use them to process gift pics since recipients always commented on the "old fashioned" pictures.
    I also used them when I needed to have something special done, like pushing the ISO past what it was rated as, developing pics exactly as taken to diagnose camera problems, etc. The guys at Ritz are nice enough, but they aren't a local bunch of photophiles anymore. (Don't get me started on Ritz corporate, though...)

    Michelle

    2 Jan 09 at 7:16 pm

  3. There is a new place, on Harden, I think, called "F-Stop" or something like that that is supposed to be run by film die-hards. I haven't checked it out yet though.

    ted

    3 Jan 09 at 12:32 am

  4. Dennis,
    The bald man that worked there was named Bob. His assistant was Nan and they were a great couple to talk to. I drove the delivery van for Jackson Camera in the early-mid 70s. Customers would drop off their film at the stores and I would collect it daily and deliver it to the lab in the back of the Main Street store for processing.

    Terry Edwards

    15 Jan 09 at 10:13 pm

  5. There was also a balding man at the Main Street office name "Charlie." Salesman extraordinaire. After you picked up your [whatever], he'd ask something like, "Do you need more film?" "Will two be enough?" "Need more batteries?" "Need a new flash?"

    What was great about Jackson and Columbia Photo was their photofinishers’ attention to detail. They always got it right the first time, looking at every frame, and making specific color and exposure adjustments to that photo. For many years, I kept a couple of photos in my office for comparison any time anyone asked me a question about having pictures developed.

    badger

    16 Jan 09 at 12:56 pm

  6. I definitely remembers Charlie's "Film? Flashbulbs? Batteries?" as he walked over to the register. He had his cordless phone in a leather holster -- before anyone else in Columbia had a cordless phone.

    His helper Sam Chestnut opened Quick Photo on Lady Street, which went well for many years. He then got involved with computer service which has not worked out for him. Not sure what he's doing now.

    Dennis

    18 Jan 09 at 5:21 pm

  7. I stumble onto this site while looking around the web for an old acquaintance. I actually dated Jackson’s oldest daughter a few times during the early ‘70s. I was just wondering if I could find her… I met her at Spartanburg Junior College and we later went out a couple of times in Columbia. I thought she was wonderful and so full of promise. I had no idea until much later that she was part of the Jackson Camera family. I recall her younger sister was tragically killed – I believe in an auto accident. The surviving sister (the one I dated) might not have ever gotten over the death of her young sibling. With time and different life directions – we drifted apart. I hope she found happiness and good health.

    Now that I am in my mid 50’s – I sometimes think of things from the past – like we all do on occasion.

    Steve

    12 Feb 09 at 11:43 pm

  8. Ted, I think F-Stop has moved. I think they re-located to Huger street.

    ChiefDanGeorge

    3 Dec 10 at 4:20 pm

  9. I, too, worked part-time at Jackson Camera on Main Street, briefly with Sam Chestnut. Are you sure the "Charlie" referred to here wasn't Sam Eichhorn? Not sure about the spelling, but all the sales gimmicks were definitely Sam. Yes, when a customer asked for a roll of film, he'd pick up two rolls of Fuji film (better margin of profit), and invariably the customer would ask for Kodak film and just one. Sam was a retired Air Force sergeant. Last time I saw him, he was doing computer work for the state Retirement System.

    Bert Lunan

    15 Jun 12 at 12:32 pm

  10. Coulda been. He never introduced himself as "Charlie" to me. A friend who also frequented that location referred to him by that name--and that was the only name I ever had for him.

    badger

    15 Jun 12 at 12:58 pm

  11. Sam Eichhorn was a hoot. He married an oriental lady he met while stationed overseas and they had two lovely daughters. Sam was the only person I knew that purchased 50# sacks of rice.

    There was another gentleman that worked there at the time named Charlie, along with Charles Edwards and Bobby Turbeville who went on to open Columbia Photo on Devine Street around 1974.

    The basement of the Main Street store was used as a development lab and manufacturing area for dissolve units that allowed two Kodak carousel slide projectors to work in tandem for slide presentations.

    Sometime in the '80s Bobby opened another photo shop in Woodhill Mall and then moved it to Landmark Square further down Garners Ferry Road into what may have been a former library branch location. A Columbia Police station is currently located there.

    Terry

    19 Jun 12 at 4:14 am

  12. Jackson Camera Five Points was managed in the mid-60's by a German named Frank Busch.

    I bought my first camera from Frank and learned that he lived in my neighborhood. Frank invited me over a number of times for photography lessons, which was pretty good salesmanship on his part. From those lessons sprang many sales, as I spent just about all my after school and summer earnings buying equipment and supplies from Frank at Jackson Camera.

    When I returned to Columbia after being away for a number of years, I was sad to learn that Frank had been killed in a car wreck in his VW beetle. Especially sad, because I recall he had a wife and two young daughters.

    gbubbasmith

    13 Jul 12 at 3:29 pm

  13. More Info: I worked from Jackson Camera from 1984 to 1986. I worked most of the stores and was manager of the Five Points location for about a year. I met my wife at Jackson's and she managed this Forest Drive store for about 12 years.

    Dennis, the quiet man you remember from Jackson Camera in the Mall was actually English. His name was Bob Hobsons and he was a WWII vet. He spent the war in the Med and told me that he only saw one German the entire time, a Stuka pilot that was shot down and captured. I worked with him. He as a great guy. Very interesting. He worked there until some time in the late 80's or early 90's. I went to his retirement party. I have lost track of him since then but he was a hoot to work with.

    I also worked with Sam Chesnut at Quick Photo for about 2 years after leaving Jackson Camera. Great guy! I have not seen him in a while. Hope he is doing well.

    Will update more in the future. Thanks all for a nice tour down memory lane.

    MC

    Marion

    17 Aug 12 at 12:53 pm

  14. A few more closings from way back, Diamond Disco, Hendly Homes, Shulers Market on Rosewood, Dons in 5 Points, Saturday Night Fever.

    Gary

    17 Aug 12 at 8:27 pm

  15. The Diamond Disco is sort of covered here.

    ted

    17 Aug 12 at 11:00 pm

  16. Thanks for directing me to Diamond Disco. I recognized the floor from the pictures and then read that Woody had responded that it was the original floor.

    Gary

    17 Aug 12 at 11:17 pm

  17. I remember a man, I think his name was Rick, who worked at the Dutch Square store for awhile until leaving to go work at Best Photo Superlab. Does anybody recall his name? If so, please E-mail me at dcmorris@windstream.net

    David

    30 Jan 14 at 1:13 am

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