WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwire – December 9, 2010) – Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image, America’s premier retail destination for cameras and imaging, announces the launch of “12 Days of Ritzmas,” a holiday promotion in the spirit of gift giving throughout the holiday season. For 12 days beginning on Monday, Dec. 13, Ritz & Wolf will host daily giveaways with an array of imaging gifts ranging from MyShow DVDs to an LCD TV, as a way of saying thanks to its customers for a wonderful year and best wishes in the new year.
Ritz & Wolf is giving its customers the chance to win during its “12 Days of Ritzmas” through a variety of online platforms including Facebook, Twitter and its online imaging site RitzPix.com. Beginning with 12 prizes on Dec. 13, the countdown will conclude with one grand prize on the final day, Christmas Eve. Customers will have a chance to win great prizes including Premium Photo Books, Canvas Prints, Digital Cameras, Droid Tablets, TVs, Camcorders and more. Ritz & Wolf will announce which great prizes it will give away daily on its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/photocontest.
“The holidays are a wonderful time of the year for retailers and consumers, but also the most stressful, so we thought it would be fun to give back a little something to our loyal customers who have been so good to us this year and in the past,” says Stephen M. LaMastra, president of Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image. “With the range of products and services we currently offer in-store and online, we will have the opportunity to reward our customers with gifts that will share, save and display life’s treasured memories.”
How to Enter
To enter for a chance to win, customers must do one or all of the following:
Customers must enter by one of the above methods each day, to be entered for that day’s drawing. Winners will be chosen at random.]]>
WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwire – October 26, 2010) – Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image, America’s premier retail destination for cameras and imaging, today announces a system wide Foursquare promotion encouraging people to “check-in” to their retail locations for a special offer. Foursquare, the location-based social networking tool that allows consumers to check-in to their favorite places on their mobile devices, allows businesses to award those that check-in with discounts and prizes. After a successful test of the Washington, DC area stores, Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image, will honor every Foursquare check-in with five free 4×6 photo prints at its nearly 300 stores nationwide.
“We’re thrilled to join forces with Foursquare,” says Peter Tahmin, vice president of RitzPix.com, the online retail site for Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image. “Not only is this an easy way to reward our loyal customers, this promotion and integration of social networking tools emphasizes our dedication to being at the forefront of both the in-store and online imaging industry.”
Ritz Camera & Image has an extensive brand portfolio, including Ritz Camera & Image, Wolf Camera & Image, Inkley’s Camera & Image, Kits Camera & Image and The Camera Shop. Foursquare check-ins are rewarded at each location.
Click Here to find your nearest location.
About Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image
Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image is America’s premier retail destination for cameras and imaging. With a legacy of nearly 100 years, Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image is a leader in the exciting and evolving world of image technology. Always a leader in price and quality, Ritz & Wolf is ranked by Consumer Reports as a top five electronics store, and is the highest ranking destination for camera and imaging products based on service, product quality and buying ease. Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image is headquartered in Washington, D.C. and operates more than 300 stores in 36 states from coast to coast. RitzPix.com is the company’s online site for all imaging needs, and offers a range of products in one hour that is unrivaled anywhere in the world. Ritz & Wolf has dedicated its legacy to empowering consumers to share, display and save all of life’s treasured memories.
WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwire – October 19, 2010) – RitzPix.com, the online imaging site for Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image, announces unprecedented “no extra cost” one-day shipping to complement the company’s long standing one-hour pickup in stores. This “one hour/one day” delivery initiative can’t be found at any other online or in-store imaging retailer and will offer customers the quickest and most affordable shipping and pick-up in the country.
“We have worked towards this day for quite some time, and we are thrilled to offer our customers this remarkable service,” states Stephen M. LaMastra, president of Ritz Camera & Image. “In this instant gratification world we live in, it is important to be able to provide our customers with the best photo and imaging products and services coupled with the fastest and least expensive shipping in the photo imaging industry.”
Ritz Scares Up Deal on Most Photographed Day of the Year
To celebrate this unprecedented new one-day delivery program, and take advantage of one of the biggest picture taking holidays of the year, Ritz will offer an 8×10 enlargement for just $1 on Nov. 1 for 11 hours. The catch? The 8×10 must be a Halloween themed photo. Starting at 8 a.m. customers who upload their photographs from the prior day’s Halloween festivities will not only pay $1 for the enlargement, but will also have the opportunity to receive the photo in one day if ordered before 11 a.m., or two days if ordered after 11 a.m. for the standard shipping rate of only $1.99.
With photo prints, photo books, calendars, photo cards, announcements, invitations, enlargements, posters and pictures CDs, Ritz & Wolf Camera & Image and RitzPix.com customers, almost anywhere in the US, will always automatically receive one-day shipping at standard shipping rates. Customers will enjoy this one-day shipping instead of the usual six to eight day standard shipping promised by competing photo sites. In order to take advantage of the one-day shipping at standard rates, customers must place their orders before 11 am, but even orders placed after that time will be received in only two days.
For more information, visit www.ritzpix.com.]]>
WASHINGTON, DC–(Marketwire – October 12, 2010) – RitzPix.com, the online retail imaging site for Ritz Camera & Image, announced the launch of its next generation iPhone application. The enhanced version features all of the same sharing and organization capabilities as its predecessor, with the addition of the ability to order prints and other imaging products directly from RitzPix.com on the device. Users can simply take a picture, upload it to their RitzPix.com account and press order with the option of picking up the prints at their local store in one hour or have them delivered by mail.
“Stemming from the success of our original iPhone application, it was an important step for us to make it all-encompassing with the addition of ordering capabilities,” says Peter Tahmin, vice president of RitzPix.com and Online Retail. “As camera phones and mobile applications continue to broaden the imaging industry, it’s incredible to see what people can do from their handheld device. A major part of it this is due to the ever-expanding app store that offers hundreds of photo applications designed for professional and amateur photographers. At Ritz, we want to be sure that we’re staying in line with the trends and giving our customers the best options available to share and develop their favorite images.”
The camera phone has evolved immensely since its U.S. launch in 2004. Originating with a mere one device, today nearly every phone has a built in camera, including models that feature eight-megapixel cameras and HD video capabilities. Specifically over the last couple of years, cell phones have transitioned into the go-to medium for taking and sharing pictures on the go. According to CTIA, more than 24.2 billion MMS messages were reported for the last half of 2009, which is more than double the number from the previous year. To further enhance mobile images, there are hundreds of applications available to crop, color, shape, blur, zoom, adjust lighting and to help select the best photo spots. Once the perfect image has been taken, the RitzPix.com iPhone application allows the photographer to upload and order all in one place.
RitzPix.com offers a range of products available in one hour that is unrivaled anywhere in the world. Consumers can upload and order their mobile images in a wide range of sizes or use them to create custom products such as photo books, greeting cards, custom photo calendars, photos on CD, photo stamps, canvas prints, personalized photo gifts and scrap book pages, all offered for in-store pick up in a hour or online ordering delivered by mail.
The RitzPix for iPhone application is available from Apple’s App Store on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad devices or at http://www.apple.com/iphone/apps-for-iphone/.]]>
Ritz Camera, whose CEO vowed to embrace the digital age after rescuing the company from extinction last year, is making it easy for iPhone users to actually print all those pictures they take.
A new function in its second-generation iPhone app, called RitzPix, allows users to upload photos and pick up the prints at the nearest Ritz Camera store in an hour. It also gives users the option to order prints and have them delivered via old-fashioned mail, although it does promise delivery in about a day that way.
Using the app requires an account at the company’s RitzPix website. The app is free.
“At Ritz, we want to be sure that we’re staying in line with the trends and giving our customers the best options available to share and develop their favorite images,” said Peter Tahmin, vice president of the company’s online retail operations.
Ritz Chief Executive David Ritz, along with investors that included employees, bought Ritz Camera at auction after the 92-year-old Beltsville-based company filed for bankruptcy in 2009. Ritz told the Washington Business Journal shortly after that the new company would focus on being set up to live in the digital world.]]>
“Stemming from the success of our original iPhone application, it was an important step for us to make it all-encompassing with the addition of ordering capabilities,” Peter Tahmin, vice president of RitzPix.com and Online Retail, said as part of the announcement.
The new RitzPix app can be downloaded from the App Store.]]>
Ritz Camera & Image LLC, the company that bought the former Ritz Camera stores in bankruptcy, reopened a store at Lynnhaven Mall in Virginia Beach last week .
Ritz Camera Centers LLC filed for Chapter 11 federal bankruptcy protection from creditors in early 2009 and shuttered several stores. The Lynnhaven Mall location closed in July last year, around the same time that Ritz Camera & Image bought the bankrupt retailer’s assets, including almost 300 operating stores.
The new company reopened 12 stores, including at Lynnhaven Mall. A Ritz Camera store at The Shops at Hilltop in Virginia Beach has remained open since before the bankruptcy.
The new Lynnhaven store will not only sell a variety of camera supplies and equipment but also provide “hot spots” for customers to test products and a “photo bar” where they can work with and print their digital photos. Ritz Camera recently formed a partnership with Verizon Wireless to offer its products and services at the camera stores.]]>
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By Gary Pageau
There’s no question the Ritz Camera name evokes powerful emotion. Whether as a partner or a competitor, the Beltsville, Md.-based photo-specialty chain commands a formidable presence in the United States. In this exclusive feature from PMA Magazine – Connecting the Imaging Communities, the chain’s new management team discusses the future.
Ritz Camera, PMA Canada Expo and 6Sight conference headline the new issue.
The Ritz Camera troubles were well-documented throughout the extensive bankruptcy process in 2009. Its troubles began in February 2009, when it was more than $60 million in debt to Nikon, Canon U.S.A. Inc., Fujifilm Corp., and other creditors. Ritz closed about half of its 800 camera shops and all 130 of its Boater’s World Marine Centers stores.
At the time, Ritz Camera chairman and CEO David Ritz said: “The extensive 2008 downturn in business, beginning with $5 gas prices earlier in the year, a tightening in consumer credit on new boat purchases, and less dollars to be spent on luxury items, had an early, large, negative impact on our Boater’s World division.”
Eventually, the chain was put up for auction; an investor group led by David Ritz outbid other suitors. The “new” Ritz Camera now goes by Ritz Camera & Image (RCI). Initially, the chain closed 375 stores, but it has also reopened others.
Since then, RCI has brought in Stephen LaMastra, a former Wolf Camera executive with experience turning around retail chains, as company president. Ritz remains chairman and CEO of the new RCI.
“Steve is really responsible for running the business, taking on what we have conceptualized as the new imaging world we are living in,” says Ritz. “We don’t really see it is a camera store anymore; today, it’s all about imaging.”
Even at one-third the size of the previous incarnation, RCI is in most major markets.
“We’re in what I would call large- to mid-size markets around the country,” says Ritz. “Whether that is Dallas; Houston; Boston; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Atlanta; or Charlotte, N.C., we believe we have very strong coverage, not only in the hardgoods side of our business, but also the imaging side. As we look at the world going forward today in photography, you can’t be a camera store anymore; it’s more about what we call ourselves – Ritz Camera and Image.”
Ritz adds cameras are still a big part of business for the company, but so are many other products customers can use to take, make, share, or display pictures. These products range from digital frames to televisions and from smart phones to netbooks.
“Anybody who has been in what we used to call the camera business and also was in the one-hour processing business really has two businesses,” says Ritz. “They have a hardgoods business and a service business. We are about making imaging products for sharing, displaying, and saving, whether that’s photo books, prints, enlargements, calendars, photo gifts, etc.
“In our case, as a national chain with approximately 300 stores across the country, we offer all these products, not just prints, in one hour, whether you come into the store to our print bars or go online to www.ritzpix.com. We have created what we think is a pretty sophisticated, complex network, so you can order any of these products online, pick a store, and go pick them up in an hour.”
Ritz explains it’s about being relevant to the digital world today.
“Today, it is really all about content, and we are still lucky to be in the photo/imaging business because it’s really about personal content,” he says. “We’re not the book business or the music business, which have pre-produced products in large quantities. We still are, if you will, a publisher of everybody’s personal work. That’s the business we’re in.”
LaMastra agrees: “In the first year of RCI, we’ve grown imaging products as a percentage of our total revenue fairly dramatically. We’ll continue to do that over the next couple of years. Imaging will increasingly be a larger and larger portion of what we do in terms of overall revenue. We’re also growing our hardgoods sales, but imaging is growing at a faster rate.”
While LaMastra’s last position with Raving Brands involved reviving restaurants for later sale, he says he’s at RCI for the long haul.
“Our core objective here is to create value,” says LaMastra. “We’ve stabilized the business, and we’re growing again. [RCI] is taking a leadership role. David Ritz and our owners, as well as the rest of the management team and I, are committed for the long haul.”
LaMastra has reorganized some of the top management, including bringing in Raving Brands executives, but he has meshed them with experienced Ritz staff.
This new thinking has led to an expansion of services, including the testing of a new “On-Location” photo service, through which RCI staff employees can be booked to provide on-site photography and portrait services.
Another change is the high-profile relationship with Verizon Wireless; while Ritz Camera has offered cell phones for many years, LaMastra says the Verizon arrangement is much more strategic.
“We believe, over the next few years, imaging will be an increasingly important element of the mobile experience for customers, and mobile devices will be an increasing part of our business,” says LaMastra.
Richard Tranchida, executive vice president of RCI, admits maintaining equivalent services across a broad retail network will be a challenge. Unlike analog photography, where the number of output sizes and surfaces were comparatively few, digital photography provides a multitude of options for the consumer. That presents a challenge to retailers, especially one with 300 locations committed to offering services in one hour.
“It is a challenge at times,” says Tranchida. “Every store can do wide-format printing, video transfer to DVD, laminating and mounting of the wide-format prints, and D-and-P.”
An Atlanta, Ga.-based central provides fulfillment services for those products not produced in-store. “We’ve taken books to another dimension in the past year, offering our premium books that have a cover with an image on it and inkjet printing,” says Tranchida. “We also have an inkjet-quality, lay-flat book.”
Another piece of the developing RCI service portfolio is the RitzPix.com business, now headed up by Peter Tahmin, vice president of RitzPix.com and Online Retail. Tahmin is an industry veteran, most recently with Ritz Interactive. What’s the difference between RCI and Ritz Interactive?
“Ritz Interactive is a completely separate legal entity selling hardgoods to consumers online,” explains Tahmin. “RitzPix and RitzPix.com are part of RCI, the retail chain. [RitzPix.com] is a website dedicated to consumers, allowing them to share, display, and save their images. That gives them the ability to create albums; and from those albums, consumers can email photos, build photo books, create greeting cards, order prints, and order all the photographic products we offer online.
“Consumers have the option of going into the 300 retail stores and picking those products up, or, if they would like, we’ll produce them out of our Atlanta wholesale facility and mail them to the customer,” he says.
Part of the expanded vision of RitzPix.com, however, is to be more a part of a consumer’s social experience, says Tahmin, adding the new Access Photo service provides links to Facebook photos and Picasa. This is part of Tahmin’s goal to make accessing photos on RitzPix easier than ever.
“We want to enable our consumers to get their images easily and pull them into their accounts,” he explains. “Behavior is always changing, but one of the things that struck me is people have images on a number of different sites. Wouldn’t it be nice to enable customers to begin to pull all of those images into a common repository, and we thought it would be fitting to be RitzPix.com.”
Ritz also offers customers free storage through its LifeSync desktop application.
Driving customers to retail is an objective of RitzPix, and this now includes handhelds. RCI provides access to RitzPix via iPhone and Android apps and is also looking to tie into location-specific services like foursquare.
The next step, according to Tahmin, is to become more involved with consumers’ lives. “We’re doing lots of things to suggest to consumers that special occasions can be commemorated in a photo book or a distinct product. We’re constantly looking at the site, looking at occasions, and looking at how and why people use images to try and present different ideas to them to instill some different thought processes.”
“Every day, somebody’s having a birthday or celebrating an anniversary,” he says. “In essence, could [RCI] be making gifts every day? We’ve had quite a bit of success making 5-by-7 photo cards with our toner machines. We never thought the card business could be a 12 month-a-year business; I’m now convinced it certainly can be and will be. People buy cards every day, don’t they?
“There is almost a reason to give a gift every day besides Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, and certainly the holiday time,” says Tranchida. “We’re going to take a little stronger shot at the gifting products that are not necessarily photos and see what we can do with that.”
The reinvention of RCI faces some reality checks that David Ritz agrees are table stakes in the retail environment today.
“My own personal opinion is: It is not feasible in the world of digital photography to have the number of stores that existed in the film world,” he says. “In the film world, it was all about convenience and about having locations that catered to ‘X’ number of thousands of people because they had film. Today, that isn’t true. In most cases, retail today is about bringing people to destinations. You don’t have to have 60 stores in a city; 20 stores in a city probably will suffice – in the right spots.”
One thing that hasn’t changed is the need for constant innovation in the photo category, according to Ritz, despite the fact the recession has impacted consumer spending.
“You have to have a demonstrably different feature to get people to go from what is already a good product – whether it’s a television, a camera, or a phone – to a new, better product. I don’t think they will just go buy it because it’s the newest thing out there. One of the examples is the new, smaller, interchangeable lens cameras from the last few months. Some consumers are looking at that [category] and saying, ‘This is demonstrably better than the old $300 point-and-shoot camera because it does have better lenses, which means a better picture.’
“I don’t think a person would buy another point-and-shoot camera because it has two more megapixels, which probably did happen four or five years ago. That’s why manufacturers have to come up with products that are demonstrably different.”
Being “demonstrably different” is also the objective of RCI, according to LaMastra, citing the online presence of the company as an example.
“RitzPix.com is unique in the industry, both from an imaging standpoint and from an online imaging standpoint, in that at RitzPix.com, we offer an incredibly deep and broad offering of imaging products, nearly all of which are available in one hour in the store,” says LaMastra. “That is pretty powerful. That is what differentiates us. That’s not something our competitors can replicate.”
He adds, however, the company has a broad vision of the future.
“Any product or device used to create, share, display, or save an image is something we need to be interested in as a company, something we need to offer to our customers, and something we need to be educated on to be able to engage our customer base,” says LaMastra. “When you look at our stores, cameras are obviously a centerpiece of that – always have been and always will be. We’re more committed to the camera business than Ritz has ever been; but at the same time, we realize operating in this ‘imaging umbrella’ we operate under has given us the opportunity to move forward into other product classes – from televisions to netbooks, to the Verizon Wireless relationship, to all the cool, new products available in the video category. These are all products people use to access and share their images, and those are businesses we want to be in. Our stores have a holistic approach to imaging.”
For LaMastra, the revitalization of RCI coincides with the opportunity for the photo-specialty channel as a whole.
“We believe, for the foreseeable future, there’s a place for an imaging specialty retailer like RCI and others,” he proclaims. “There’s always a place out there connecting consumers with their treasured images and their treasured memories. We have no doubt there’s a place for RCI over the long term and there’s a place for imaging specialty retail.
“In addition, we do know 5-10 years from now, when you come into a Ritz Camera & Image store, it will look different than today. Our stores look very different today than even a year or two ago. With a leadership role in the industry, it’s our job to make sure we stay out in front of technology.
“We, as an industry, are in a new, golden era of imaging,” says LaMastra. “I have no doubt about that. There will always be a powerful connection between our customers, both now and in the future, and their memories, their lives, and their images. People will always want to share, display, and save those images because what they’re really doing is sharing, displaying, and saving their cherished memories. And as long as there’s that connection, people will want what we in the imaging business have to offer.”]]>
The store at 1003 W. University Ave. will sell cameras and accessories from Nikon, Sony, Blackberry and others. As well as camcorders, DVD players, mp3 players and products from Verizon Wireless, through a partnership with the mobile carrier. The business operated by Ritz Camera & Image will also develop film and digital photos.
Customers that visit opening day beginning at 10 a.m. will receive a free six-inch, by six-inch photo book in various colors and layouts.
“We have re-energized the Wolf Camera & Image brand with a renewed commitment to the consumers of the Austin area,” Ritz Camera President Stephen M. LaMastra said. “Through partnerships with national shopping centers like Simon, and category leaders such as Verizon Wireless, we are poised to succeed despite an unprecedented economic environment that has weighed heavy on many of our competitors.”
The store will be open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.]]>
RitzPix.com, the online retail imaging site for Ritz Camera & Image, this month launched a video gallery section that enables subscribers to share and showcase videos in a secure, password-protected environment. The gallery is an extension of the web site’s online photo album offerings, enabling subscribers to host and share photos and videos in a single destination.
“We want to make sure that we offer our customers every possible option for all their imaging needs, whether that’s through pictures, videos or artwork,” says Peter Tahmin, vice president of RitzPix.com and online retail. “They can upload it to our web site and edit, save or share it as needed.”
RitzPix.com is No. 447 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.
The video gallery, developed by DigitalPost Interactive, features video technology that enables subscribers—both amateurs and professionals—to upload any type of video files to their personalized video galleries and edit, share, display and save video content. Videos can be uploaded to RitzPix.com galleries from more than 300 Ritz Camera & Image stores throughout the U.S. and directly via the Internet from anywhere in the world.
The free RitzPix video editor tools offer editing capabilities for cropping the video online, combining multiple video clips through a storyboard and adding transitions.
“The response has been extremely positive,” Tahmin says. “As a matter of fact, we started receiving subscribers to the new video service within minutes of launching it.”
RitzPix.com offers two video packages. The basic plan includes up to 30 minutes of videos and includes the sharing and video editor tools for $11.95 per year. The premium plan offers unlimited video uploads, and the sharing and video editor tools for $29.95 per year. Both packages come with a two-week trial, and consumers can cancel the plan at any time if not satisfied, Tahmin says.
In a second phase, expected to roll out in the third quarter, RitzPix.com will add customized video e-cards to the gallery that will allow customers to share videos in greeting cards and announcements. During the second phase, subscribers also will be able to access, manage and share their video galleries through the more than 2,000 kiosks located in Ritz Camera and Image stores.]]>