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Norwich — Cooper’s Imaging, a full-service photo processing store that was one of the last of its kind in the region, has closed down and sold its website to Photosmith Imaging of Dover, N.H.
Carl Abissi, owner of the store for the past 14 years, said today that the proliferation of camera phones and the paucity of demand for photo prints finally sounded the death knell for the 24-year-old company. Abissi said he also has a deal to sell for $300,000 the Cooper’s Imaging building on West Town Street to a nonprofit organization he couldn’t yet name.
“We couldn’t make a go of it here in Norwich,” he said in a phone interview. “There is no value to a photo lab anymore.”
Abissi, a Woodstock resident, said he tried to sell his local business but couldn’t find a buyer. So he essentially "gave away" his Internet photo processing site, www.coopersimaging.com, to Photosmith Imaging, he said, wanting his customers to be taken care of by a company that knows the business and has the same high skill level.
“On behalf of the whole staff here at Cooper’s, we can’t thank you enough for your business,” Abissi said in a note to customers. “We are going to miss the many customers we enjoyed working with over the years.”
Steve Frank, owner of Photosmith Imaging, said in a phone interview that he and the Abissi family have known each other for three decades. He promised to continue the high level of service that people had come to expect at Cooper’s, though processing will now have to take place through the mail rather than by direct dropoff.
“They’re real print people, like us,” Abissi said.
Abissi, who had three staffers at the end, said the closure of Cooper’s leaves ABC PhotoLab in Mystic and Photo Connection in Colchester as the last of the local photo-processing stores.
People are simply not printing photographs anymore, he said, preferring to post shots over the Internet or send them into the cloud for safekeeping. Some parts of his business were expanding, such as video transfer to digital formats, but the extra income in that category was not making up for the dwindling print business.
He finally made the decision to close after the business was hit particularly hard by a lack of customers during last winter’s harsh weather.
“I had to ask myself, ‘Is this ever, ever going to get better?’” he said. “It was a roller-coaster.”
Abissi said he would be working for the next couple weeks on closing down the business. He already has sold off any equipment that had value — including a half-million-dollar printer that went to China for pennies on the dollar — but he largely has had to trash expensive processing equipment that no one wants any more.
“It’s a very difficult decision after that many years,” he said. “But I feel it was the right one.”