Today I read in the Chicago Tribune about the destruction of the 121-year-old business and I was deeply saddened.
On Saturday night in downtown Chicago, the protests related to the death of George Floyd got violent and the camera shop was looted and then set on fire. Everything was destroyed.
When I lived in Chicago in the 1980's, I had just gotten started with photography and regularly went to Central Camera for film, supplies and most of all: advice. The photos in this blog are from my visit to Central Camera on Wabash Avenue in downtown Chicago last year.
In 2019 while visiting Chicago from Germany, I went to the store to get some advice about the Argus camera which I had inherited. I remember talking to the owner Don Flesch and his employees for quite some time. They were all incredibly competent, friendly and gave you the feeling they had all the time in the world for you. Thus, I'm so relieved to hear that no one was injured during the destruction.
According to the newspaper article, Don hurried to his store when he got the alarm that it was burning but all he could do was watch helplessly as the looters ran off with valuable merchandise as it burned.
Central Camera had the most comprehensive photographic inventory I have ever seen and it was all packed from floor to ceiling in a very narrow and long shop. This was the type of store that had exactly what you need no matter if it was for an old analog camera or something high-tech and exotic - they had it! Their inventory ranged from antique collectible cameras to high-quality used professional equipment to rolls of infra-red film stored in a refrigerator for immediate use.
It's all gone.
In it's 121 year history, Central Camera has endured through three generations. You can support the effort to keep it going and rebuild by contributing to the gofundme campaign https://www.gofundme.com/f/central-camera-company-rebuild
Ironically, I was about to purge the indoor photos which were taken while I was trying out new lenses because they were "throw away" shots without any composition or "value" .... until now.
To be honest, now I'm afraid to purge anything .... because you truly never know!