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Community Commentary: Cal's Camera closing brings back a flood of memories

October 17, 2011|By Geoff West

When I reached a magic milestone this summer and planted both feet firmly into geezerdom I knew I probably wouldn't like the changes in store for me. Sure enough, almost simultaneous with my birthday, the wheels began to come off — a little stiffness in a knee, a little skin cancer to be dealt with and the first whopper of a cold this year. However, I was not ready for the latest change — Cal's Cameras is closing forever!

At the end of the recent City Council study session a friend, observing my ever-present camera, casually mentioned that Cal's was closing. It was like a punch in the gut for me. I've spent so much time at Cal's Cameras over the past three decades that I feel almost like a member of the family.

Cal's has been an institution on Newport Boulevard almost 50 years. I've shopped there exclusively for my camera needs for more than 30 of those. I always knew that I could find knowledgeable, professional staff members, ready and able to answer every question and to match my needs and budget to the right camera. I knew that I could find whatever accessory I needed, either for myself or for a gift. I also knew that by purchasing items at Cal's I'd probably be paying a few dollars more than at some of the discount outlets — and, more recently, online — but it was worth it to me. I wanted to support local businesses and Cal's represented what I considered to be the best of our local vendors.

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I remember the good old days, when customers outnumbered staffers and professional photographers made Cal's their first stop when shopping for a new rig or piece of equipment. We novices would rub elbows with them and eavesdrop on their conversations, trying to pick up pointers. I remember taking a new camera back because the technology had me baffled and receiving a personal tutorial by a staff member, who patiently walked me through the dials, buttons and menus until I felt comfortable. It was a great place to shop.

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