As reported last week, New Jersey based photography retailer, C&A Marketing Inc, which purchased some of Calumet Photographic's assets and debt, opened the Oak Brook Calumet Photographic store last Sunday, May 11th.
The opening was generally well received with customers noting many of the old Oak Brook staff had been rehired by C&A to run the store.
Customers reported to me that the store had Pocket Wizard, Sekonic, Gitzo, Manfrotto, Calumet, Quantum, Nikon, Canon, as part of a large variety of name brand products, in the store for the opening. Some customers said they were disappointed that many higher end products, for sale mainly to professionals and enthusiasts, were not in stock, such as Nikon professional bodies and lenses.
Last Friday, May 16th, I had the opportunity to speak with C&A's Executive Vice President, Chaim Pikarski who was candid about C&A's purchase of Calumet, the reopening of the Oak Brook store, and other issues.
Mr. Pikarski explained that after carefully reviewing Calumet's business, they felt opening the Oak Brook store was very important to making Calumet Photographic successful, and that attempting to keep the staff of the Oak Brook Store would be a key toward that success, so they moved quickly to reopen the store and rehire as many of its former staff, as possible.
With the quick reopening of the store, following the acquisition of Calumet, the product inventory was essentially what was left in the store when it closed, due to Calumet's bankruptcy. Mr. Pikarski told me they would be moving in additional stock and additional brands to the store as quickly as possible, including the kinds of high end products preferred by professionals and enthusiasts.
Mr. Pikarski said they plan to bring the Olympus and Leica brands to the store and Calumet in general, and of Olympus and Fuji, in particular, their higher end products.
He said that he wants Calumet to be the “candy store of photographers.”Next up for Calumet will be to fully reopen the Calumet Photographic website( www.calumetphoto.com ) which is currently online, but very much under construction. C&A is having technical issues with the site which they expect to correct in the coming weeks. They are rebuilding the site, essentially from scratch. Based on my own experience at building websites, I'm more than aware that doesn't happen overnight.
We fully discussed Calumet Photographic's customers, who when the bankruptcy was filed, were left holding store credits, prepaid orders, and gift cards. (Customers who had their own equipment at Calumet, which was in for repair, should immediately contact the bankruptcy trustee, Catherine L. Steege, of Jenner & Block in Chicago, to find out what rights they have, and what they need to and can do, if anything, at this late date.)
Mr. Pikarski said the new Calumet Photographic would welcome old Calumet customers holding store credits, prepaid orders, and gift cards, and would work with them on an individual basis, in the same way they did after reopening many of the Ritz and Wolf stores. Just like after the Ritz and Wolf bankruptcies, C&A had no legal requirement to work with the companies' former customers, but they did, and from personal experience, in my opinion, very fairly.