Fred and Jamie Ernst, married proprietors of Quick as a Flash in Vacaville, Calif., are by no means resistant to change, they’re just really honest about how tough it can be. “Learning digital technology hasn’t been easy for me,” says Fred. “I mean, it took me a year to learn how to use an ATM.”
Don’t let his modesty fool you, though. Fred Ernst has, through remodeling, retooling, and business savvy, been the only one of six photo specialty retailers to stay open in Sonalo County, a Bay-area suburb, since the digital transition. Not only has their business survived, Fred and Jamie have recently spent $50,000 turning their 20-year-old store into a “digi lounge” and even more on new equipment. And it should also be noted that this isn’t the first time the couple has had to reinvent themselves. Fred is 86 years old, Jamie, 80. Veterans of the copying and printing business, these two could very well be the most experienced retailers in the country at the moment, and certainly in the running for the most versatile.
“We’ve lived through three different industries now, copying, printing, and film photography,” says Fred. “All three had a major chance at the peak of our success, nearly wiping us out, but I attribute our survival to stubbornness. I have a wife who won’t let me quit.”