The first free standing Precision Camera Repair & Rental was established in 1979 at 3004 Guadalupe #5 here in beautiful Austin, TX.
To better explain the beginnings of the store, here is an excerpt of the open letter from our owner and CEO Jerry Sullivan:
Precision Camera Repair & Rental and Austin Photographic Gallery was at first just a 750 square foot repair shop, fine used cameras store (primarily Leica, Nikon, Canon, Rollei and Hasselblad) and a small gallery space devoted to photos and photographic art books. I am proud to have shown fine photos from the collections of Mr. Russell Lee, the famous WPA photographer, Jim Bones, Garry Winogrand, Edward S. Curtis and many very talented local photographers.
As time went by the business grew rapidly and I hired several technicians to keep up with what was quickly overtaking all of my time and the space. No longer having any wall space, I closed the Gallery and added pegboard. Yes I sold out, but it was easy to do in retrospect. Photographic print sales in those days was a really unrewarding business, sales never covered expenses much less made a profit. With lens caps and batteries, the profits were plebeian but positive. I saw “the light” and added Canon and Nikon as our first new camera lines and Agfa and Oriental Fine art papers.
We expanded into the adjoining spaces #3 and #4 and then gutted the original space to add Austin’s first Noritsu RA4 One-Hour Photo Lab in 1987. We greatly increased business as a result of the increased traffic and soon had our first $1,000,000 year, surely breaking the record for retail dollars per square foot. This craziness had to end, and in 1991 we moved into a completely new, custom finished 4000 sq. foot space less than a mile northwest from our old location.
After 9 more years even more phenomenal growth, our new location got a little cramped and we leased for an additional 4300 square foot Corporate Office / Repair Service Center / Warehouse Complex which was completed in June 1999. An additional 2500 square feet of Retail Sales floor was added (taking in Sue Patrick’s, a Ladies Dress shop next door) along with a complete remodeling of the entire store completed in late November 1999.
The business has exploded with the arrival of digital photography. In addition to all the newest Digital Cameras, we now sell computers and huge printers, more than making up for the 90% drop off in film cameras. In 2005 we remodeled the former darkroom area of our store to make room for a great new Digital Photo Lounge. Here one can have a cup of coffee, edit, and instantly print your favorite pictures from your media card or CD. It’s amazing how the business has changed in 30 short years…. from Petri’s to Pixels.
Success has been good to me and my family, but at the cost of precious little free time. While I love my business and have made many lifelong friends, I am looking forward to slowing down some soon, playing some golf, traveling and even pulling out that old Graphic ( yes, I still have it and it still works) and actually get back to what I really love and enjoy the most…Photography!
Thanks to all my loyal customers, friends and employees over the years..without all of you I could never have had such a wonderful time doing what I love…