Blacks camera stores across Canada closing Aug. 8

Blacks, the longtime Canadian camera shop and film developing chain with the slogan "Blacks is photography," will close its stores across Canada in August.

In 2009, Telus acquired Toronto-headquartered photo and video-developing company founded in the '30s

Dianne Buckner explains how technological change is driving the chain from the retail marketplace 2:05

Blacks, the longtime Canadian camera shop and film developing chain with the slogan "Blacks is photography," will close its stores across Canada in August.

Telus, which acquired Blacks in 2009, confirmed in a statement that all of the company's 59 outlets — most in Ontario — will be shut by Aug. 8.

Some 485 employees are affected by the closure, Telus said, noting it will try to find new jobs for those employees with Telus or its mobile service, Koodo.

"Technological innovations have changed the way Canadians take and share photographs, with fewer of us using retail photo outlets," Telus said in a statement.

The statement said Blacks had made "positive momentum and financial improvements" during the last year, but the company isn't growing.

Telus said it would take "considerable investment" to turn Blacks into a profitable chain. 

Blacks' online presence and app will cease on Aug. 8, Telus said.

Cellphones killed the camera store

Ken Wong, an associate professor of business at Queen's School of Business, said the "obvious change" in the way Canadians take and share pictures caused Blacks' demise.

And if there's a murder weapon in the photography chain's death, it's the cellphone.

"The use of the cellphone as a camera has had a huge effect on the industry," Wong said, noting other large chains like Henry's have also struggled.

Wong said Blacks catered to more casual photographers than its rivals and struggled to differentiate itself and create reasons for people to come to the store rather than go online — the same issue that recently forced Sony stores to close.

"Everywhere we look, traditional retail is having some difficulty," Wong said.

Blacks founded in 1930s

Blacks was founded in the 1930s and is headquartered in Scarborough, in suburban Toronto.

One Blacks employee in Toronto said workers found out on Monday via teleconference. Another worker said the news came out of the blue.

However, the company had started closing stores in Nova Scotia and Quebec last year. Telus told CBC News it tried to find a buyer for Blacks, but nobody came forward.

Telus said at the time it acquired Blacks — in part to distribute its phones and other wireless products — that it was "an impressive Canadian retailer with a great brand."

Anyone with print cards is being encouraged to use them before the stores close.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.