One of world’s oldest camera shops shuts down
February 4, 2014
GL Robertson, a family-run store in Lancaster, has shut down following the retirement of its owner Reg Stoddon after more than 50 years.
The family has decided not to continue the business.
The store – which counted the comedian Eric Morecambe among its high-profile customers – originally traded under the name Vince & Co, a pharmacy supplying chemicals to photographers with roots dating back to 1796 – before the dawn of photography.
Among its more recent customers was Scott Lord who sees the closure of ‘Robertsons’ as a ‘perhaps a sad reflection of the changing face of business away from local shops towards online shopping – cheaper but no personal touch’.
However, Reg – who joined as an apprentice in March 1962 and also worked as a photographer – said it was simply a matter of his retirement.
‘It has been my life and my passion and I have enjoyed every minute, but it has dominated my family life,’ he told AP.
The shop took its name from a former Vince & Co employee, Alexander Robertson, whose family took over in the 1920s.
Eric Morecambe used to come in
The Robertson family used their name when Vince & Co dropped the pharmaceutical side of the business in the 1960s, said Reg.
Reg, who retired on 31 January, took over the business in 1974 – a career that took him all over the world on visits to camera factories and exhibitions.
‘Eric Morecambe used to come into my shop when he visited his parents in Morecambe’.
Other clients included ‘one of the USA’s biggest serial killers’.
On his retirement, Reg added: ‘I am extremely fortunate to have a very understanding wife who has always encouraged me and backed me to the hilt. Now it is payback time – to give her something back.’
One of Reg’s sons, Matthew, gave no hint at the shop’s impending closure when he posted a message on the forum of US-based website dpreview last year.
On 18 January 2013, Matt Stoddon wrote: ‘I think I can speak on behalf of my sisters and my brother in saying that we’re all very fortunate to have grown up in and around a photographic business – we’ve all taken an interest since an early age and several of us studied photography at school as a result.’
In a message on its website, GL Robertson tells its customers: ‘Thank you to all of our wonderful customers past and present for their cards, gifts and wishes of goodwill.
‘We have been overwhelmed by the kindness and wish you all of the best for the future.’
The shop had been at its current address on Brock Street since 1989.