Jamie Ernst

From his mezzanine office, Concord Camera Store owner Michael St. Germain has a bird’s eye view of his sales floor. Last November, it was hopping. Customers were checking out a wide selection of the latest sub-$1,000 digital SLR’s and the ever more affordable point-and-shoots, pleased to be getting a lot more camera for their money than the year before. St. Germain’s staff had good offers for customers that day, showing an 8 megapixel Kodak 875 for $199. The year before, he said, a comparable camera would have sold for about $700. Surveying the busy registers from his desk chair, St. Germain could cross off

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

Fred and Jamie Ernst, Co-ownwers, Quick as a Flash, Vacaville, CA Considering that a third of the nation’s specialty camera stores have been shuttered in the last five years, running a successful digital imaging shop today is already proof of a strong survival instinct. But Fred and Jamie Ernst, the married owners of the Quick as a Flash in Vacaville, California, have survived more than most. Fred is 86 years old, Jamie, 80. Their 19-year-old business is the only one of six photo specialty shops in Solano County to have kept its doors open. Such dogged success during the film-to-digital industry transition could very

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