Jim McCary, owner of Humble Camera, has seen some fairly significant changes in the camera and printing business since opening his shop in downtown Humble in 1995. With the introduction of the digital age, photo processing and printing went largely by the wayside and over the last several years, many similar businesses have gone under. “Wolf went bankrupt. Ritz went bankrupt. Ritz and Wolf were brothers-in-law. Ritz went bankrupt owing Kodak about $40 million. They just had a bad business plan. You can’t have a guy in a cubicle in Atlanta telling a guy in Houston what he should have in his store,” said McCary. In this day and age of big box stores and mega chains, the independent store owner is becoming a rare breed. McCary attributes the longevity of his store to the diversity of the products Humble Camera offers. In addition to selling new and used point and shoot and SLR cameras and lenses, photo editing, custom picture framing, printing on canvas, old photo restoration, printing of black and white, color and slide film, Humble Camera also rents camera lenses, for those who wish to try out a lens or take a special lens on a trip or vacation. “Over the years, our industry has totally changed and our business model has totally changed. The reason we are still here is because we are so diversified. The first few years, our processing business really carried us. We used to process 75-100 rolls of film a day. Now, we only turn on our film machine about once a week. I was fortunate in that time, to be smart enough to get everything we have paid for. We got the building paid for and all the equipment paid for, so that during the hard times, like two or three years ago, we were OK. If we had equipment [debt] like when we first started, we wouldn’t have made it” said McCary. Originally from Alabama, McCary moved to Humble in 1977. He started Humble Camera after he attempted to have a camera of his fixed. “I spent six months trying to get my camera back from the place that had it [in Houston] and when I got it back, it was in pieces and they never did fix it. There was no camera repair in Humble. So, I got to thinking, well maybe Humble needs a camera repair shop. A lot of things we do, no one else does. Today, there’s not another camera repair place within 30 miles. We have people who come from Lufkin, Nacogdoches, Liberty, Sugar Land and Katy. People come from all over because the little independent camera store is a dinosaur. There aren’t many of us left,” said McCary. Although his industry has changed radically over the past several years, McCary has not seen much change in downtown Humble. “We haven’t seen much change around here in the past 18 years. Humble City Café opened in 1996 or 1997 and that has helped bring more traffic downtown. The Café being here helps everyone. They are the big attraction.” In a few years, McCary plans to retire and the current store manager, Brad Crosby, who has been with McCary for more than 20 years, will take over as the store owner. Photo: Humble Camera and owner Jim McCary has provided camera, film and other photo services to the Humble area since 1995. Photo by Susan McFarland

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