The Smartphone Killed The Department Store Portrait: Photo Company Closing All Locations

Your mother would yell at you to pull a comb through your tangled hair, tuck in your brother’s shirt for the third time and your dad would awkwardly stand behind everyone with his hand on your mom’s shoulder. It was family portrait time, and for many Americans, it happened inside a department store. But one company that operates thousands of locations in mostly Sears and Walmart stores announced it’s shuttering its shutters for good.

CPI Corp. announced the closing with a simple message on its website, adding that it is trying to fulfilling as many customer orders as possible despite the shutdown.

“After many years of providing family portrait photography, we are sad to announce that all of our U.S. portrait studios are now closed. We appreciate your patronage and allowing us to capture your precious memories,” the statement reads.

It’s a little unclear over how many portrait studios CPI is closing — the Associated Press says over 2,000 in the U.S. while Bloomberg News cites a figure of 3,100 for North America. But one thing is for sure, the studios are shutting down.

Sears said in a statement that it’s working with CPI to fulfill orders, and “exploring all options” to continue photo services. Any customers who had a recent session can order portraits on the Sears site through April 18.

In a time where anyone can become a fairly able photographer with a decent digital camera or heck, even a smartphone and a couple of fancy effects, it’s not surprising that portrait studios have lost popularity. It’s not surprising, but it is a little bit sad.

CPI abruptly closes its US portrait studios [Associated Press]
Sears Says Portrait Studio Operator Shuts Down at U.S. Stores [Bloomberg News]