The Newest Year

2011 now gone, we welcome 2012. We are now in our 24th year of operation. It seems at once an impossibly long and short existence. Many of you were not yet born when we were; the rest were exponentially younger. For many in our line of work the ensuing years have not been particularly kind. In 1988 there were 13 labs in the Boston area. Now? Digital capture, post production, and online hardware, software, and consumables procurement have helped accelerate a race to the bottom. Sometimes I wonder what it will look like in another 24 years and then I realize that even 5 years out is a tough call.

In 2011 the New England Mobile Book Fair, one of the last remaining large independent bookstores, was sold. Jon Strymish, longtime friend and customer, was one of the owners. Jon seems at peace enough now with letting go but watching this from my perch here in Needham has been unsettling. Small businesses get founded and if all goes well they prosper and grow and the founders or their heirs eventually sell and move on or retire. That is just the way it is and it’s not a bad thing, but the ubiquity of Amazon et al has pretty much assured the ultimate demise of many brick and mortars. This past year saw the closing of Zeff Photo in Belmont. They had a well-established, longtime base of professional and amateur photographers and enthusiasts, and that wasn’t enough. In the hypercompetitive world of consumer and even professional equipment things change so quickly that the only practical way to keep up is to continually research your needs online. The local brick and mortars have difficulty continually bringing in the newest and latest when there are boxes of unsold, not-quite-the-newest-and-latest sitting on their shelves. Faced with the choice of paying a little more for hands-on, real-time access or clicking “add to cart” from B&H et al, an ever increasing many choose the latter. The way of the world, the laws of nature, the rules of the market.

Still, we are here, now. Things are going well enough as to make any complaining seem selfish and trivial. We are and remain deeply appreciative for your support and trust. We will continue to do our best for you. For auld lang syne as well as the future, our thanks and best wishes for 2012.