The Ritz Camera store located for more than 20 years on the upper level of the Mall in Columbia closed its doors on Monday, Oct. 22 following the company's three-year bout with bankruptcy.
The camera and image store has been holding liquidation and clearance sales since the beginning of October, although a final closing date was not set until the middle of the month.
According to Ritz spokesman Marc Weinsweig, at the beginning of the month there was still a possibility the Columbia store could remain open if the lease was purchased by one of Ritz's competitors.
Among the potential suitors that could've purchased the Columbia store was C&A Marketing corp., an Illinois-based marketing company that bought the rights to Ritz Camera's website and name.
Of the 60 Ritz Camera store leases privately sold to competitors nationwide, Weinsweig said, 23 were bought by C&A Marketing and will continue as Ritz Camera stores
Unfortunately, he said, the Ritz Camera in the Mall in Columbia was not one of them.
Weinsweig said no offers were made on the Ritz in Columbia, making it one of the 77 camera outlets forced to close its doors.
For area residents who frequent the store, news of the closure came as a major disappointment.
"It's really sad to see all the liquidation signs hanging in the windows," Erika Simpson of Ellicott City said.
Simpson, the mother of three children, said she's been coming to Ritz camera for over 10 years, and used it primarily for family photos.
Simpson said the staff has always been very helpful and now that it's closed, she doesn't know where to go for photography needs.
"It's like, OK, where am I'm supposed to go now?" Simpson said standing outside of Ritz recently. "There's really nowhere else to go."
The news of Ritz closing even brought a pair of Anne Arundel County teens to the Mall in Columbia to see if they can find some deals.
Lincoln Tech student Chris Schultz, 18, of Glen Burnie, said without stores like Ritz, the only alternative for purchasing a camera is online.
"I'm really bummed because other stores have a really limited selection," Schultz said.
Dylan Ironmonger, 18, of Glen Burnie, said the closing will affect his business, D. Ironmonger Photography.
"Now that they are closing, there is really nowhere else to go," Ironmonger said with a camera strung around his neck. "There are no others like it in the area."
Temporarily replacing Ritz Camera will be Sheepskin Gifts, a retailer that sells alpaca and sheepskin shoes and apparel, according to Mall spokesperson.
Sheepskin Gifts, which will open in early November, will close on Jan. 15 and be replaced by another tenant, the spokesperson added.
The spokesperson would not reveal details or specifics of the next tenant because negotiations are currently in progress.