There’s a lot that happens in twenty-two years of business. Events, Youtube fame, a move or two. Changes in the industry too – like the change from film to digital. When Peter Jeune opened the store and worked it, alone, for nearly a year, it was film that was the main revenue. He’d open the store an hour before his competition, and sell film for just a little bit less. It was how he started building a client base, drawing commercial photographers in to pick up film before their shoots.
That was back when the store was a tiny little shop at 617 11th Avenue – close enough to everything to be convenient, but small and cheap enough to be manageable. At that point, it was one of 50 camera shops in Calgary. From there, we jumped to a barely-more-than-tiny shop on 17th Avenue, where we continued to build a customer base. I was among those customers – albeit as just a little girl, tagging along with my dad as he’d pick up film for a family vacation.
Then we moved here. We got way more floor space, which we eventually filled. We went from a handful of staff to the 35 or so we employ now. We started doing bigger and bolder events, with more renowned photographers – William Albert Allard, Joel Sartore, Gerd Ludwig, and Vince Musi, to name a few. We’ve attended and put on countless trade shows, like the Digital Photo Expo several years ago. I was at that event – not as an employee, not even as a photographer – but as a teenage enthusiast, point-and-shoot in hand and eyes wide at all the expensive cameras and talented professionals. I attended the keynote speech, given by Art Wolfe, and walked away with inspiration that would later motivate me to pursue photography professionally, as well as with a signed copy of Edge of the Earth, Corner of the Sky in hand.
We asked Mary Ellen Mark, a remarkable documentary and journalistic photographer, if she would do a book signing in 2005. She was very hesitant about it, doubting the success of a book signing at a shop that sells camera equipment. After some negotiation, she agreed to do two hours. When it came to the day, she stayed for over five. We sold nearly 90 books. At one point, a young girl asked her advice on what camera would be best to start shooting with, and Mary Ellen walked behind the counter and sold a secondhand FM-2.
Peter told me that story when I asked him if he had any memorable moments over the past two decades. He has two prints from Mary Ellen Mark in his office. I pressed him for more.
“Highlights, Peter. What’s made you turn around and say ‘it’s worth it’?” He let out a small sigh and leaned back in his chair. After a beat of consideration, he answered.
“The customers. It’s the customers, you know?”
It’s always been the customers. We’ve been proud to serve the Calgary photo and video community over the past 22 years. We’ve been happy to expand our online business across the country. We’ve changed and grown as our customer base has, and listened to them – to you, when you told us what you needed in a camera store.
We wouldn’t be here without you. And that’s why we would love it if you, our customers, would come join us to celebrate on August 25th. We’ll have sales, demos, an outdoor trade show, a food truck and more, but it’s a bunch of empty tents and lonely salespeople without you.