Peoria Camera Shop plans to reopen in Metro Center with new owner

PEORIA — Local photographer Ava Kamm bought a little more than she expected when she checked out the liquidation sale at Peoria Camera Shop earlier this year.

Kamm, whose work includes portraits, estate photography and the dogs of Peoria, stopped to look for camera tripods and other gear after the family of late owner Bill Dobbins announced that the race for The store’s 84 years would end after Dobbins’ death.

“The guys that worked there told me I should buy the camera store,” she told the Journal Star. “I thought it sounded pretty fun, and then I did some research and figured out how it all could work. … Turns out it’s a great little company.”

Peoria Camera Shop opened in downtown Peoria in 1937, moving from Monroe Street to Main Street and then to Metro Center in 1990.

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As a long-time customer, Kamm knew she wanted to continue sales of the store’s cameras and equipment, as well as photography prints. But after it reopens later this month, it said it plans to add additional offerings to appeal to a wider range of customers. This includes offering more photography classes and workshops for photographers, she said.

She also hopes to hire another full-time employee and add a part-time employee. She said she had already rehired the store’s two longtime employees.

“They’re really invested in the business. They want to see it grow and they love working here,” Kamm said.

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The space was closed for about six weeks for renovations. Kamm hopes to reopen the photography printing side of the business by the end of the month, targeting April 25 for a soft opening. She acknowledged that it might take a little longer to bring back the inventory of cameras and equipment. But, she hopes, it should be at the start of the “busy season” for local photographers, which includes summer graduations and weddings.

She plans to set aside some of the shop space for a photo studio, partly to continue her work of photographing local canines and showcasing rescue dogs, but also to offer for rental to others. photographers who do not have their own studio space.

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Kamm is relieved to have entered the store when she did.

“They had almost given up and accepted that they weren’t going to find a buyer,” she said. “The stars just aligned.”

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