When we lived in MN, there was a Sears portrait studio 1 1/2 hours away. 3-4 hours away there were Target and JCPenney studios. A few times we took the Lambs to JCPenney or to a local professional, but the majority of their professional photos were taken at that Sears studio. Our pediatrician was in the same town as the Sears studio so often we would go for pictures in the morning and see the doctor in the afternoon. We got to know the manager because we went so often and she was excellent at taking photos of children.
When I heard that Sears portraits were closing across the country, I logged onto our account one more time out of curiosity. We went to Sears for 26 portrait sessions between 2004-2010. When it was about time to take them again then we moved.
When Lamb 1 was born the parenting magazines had coupons that you could get a set of photos for $9.99 at Sears. We have a small family to send photos to so this was plenty. The package included an 11x14 that went to Ram's grandparents that could not see well, the 8x10 went to the Lamb's album, the 5x7s went to the grandparents, and wallets went to everyone else. The trick was to not let the salesperson talk you into more than the coupon deal. Since it was just $10 we took Lamb 1 every couple of months, wearing different outfits. Shortly after Lamb 2 was born they stopped that coupon deal. Even though it was more expensive, it was still a fairly good deal at Sears. Then when Lamb 3 was born their prices went up even more and it wasn't affordable any more. Plus by then we had 3 Lambs and I wanted photos that were a group photo in all of their albums. Since we had taken Lamb 1 and 2 for photos, we still took Lamb 3 even though it cost more, but not nearly as often as we did for Lamb 1 or even as much as we took Lamb 2.
As the Lambs got older we didn't need pictures taken as often as when they were babies. I was not in a hurry to find a place to get their pictures taken after moving here. Finally last fall LifeTouch came to our church preschool and I was so pleased with how the pictures turned out. I plan to take them back to our church preschool when LifeTouch comes back when I want the Lambs photos taken again.
So Sears portraits closing doesn't affect our family much because our family would not be going back there for photos again. And yet I am disappointed because all those people that lived near the Sears studio that we went to in MN no longer have that as an option. If we still lived in MN and had babies we wouldn't have that as an option. I'm also a little afraid because it was nice that Sears had those online as a backup for us if we ever had a disaster in our home and lost our photos. I feel bad for that nice manager (I'm assuming that she still worked there) that lost her job along with the others that worked at Sears. Last, this digital camera age is losing something important-if you own a digital camera you think you will take lots of photos, but you don't always get around to it or download/get prints made/frame them or put them in an album. If you made that appointment, got dressed up to take photos, and went back to pick them up-then they were done. Even if it took you a year to frame them or put them in the album, you had those photos ready for the album or the wall. Also there are several people in this country that do not own a digital camera and going to Sears or Walmart was their way to get photos. There is a significant part of Americans that will no longer get photos taken if they can't go to Sears or Walmart in their town any more. I'm not just thinking of income level, I'm thinking of driving distance.
I realize that times change and if a company isn't making money they can't continue to stay in business. But Sears portrait studios closing across the country saddens me. I am thankful that they were there for us for our photos of the Lambs when they were babies.