Sears and Walmart photo studios close doors


posted Friday, April 5, 2013 at 12:30 PM EDT


The days of popping down to a Sears or Walmart to get your kids photos taken against a "tastefully" mottled grey background may be behind us. Both Sears Portrait Studio and Walmart's PictureMe Portrait studios have closed down on the back of parent company CPI Corp's own financial troubles.

The widespread proliferation of affordable DSLRs and easily shareable digital photos has done much to erode the base of the traditional portrait studio. Where many families used to go and get posed group shots at a local big box store, now it's far easier to just shoot at home, and email around the resulting images.

The website for Sears Portrait and PictureMe both offer near identical farewell notes, saying:

"After many years of providing family portrait photography, we are sad to announce our Sears Portrait Studios/PictureMe Portrait Studios are now closed. We appreciate your patronage and allowing us to capture your precious memories. If you currently have an album or have had a recent portrait session, you can order products at thru April 18, 2013.

If you have had a recent session, your portraits may be available at your local studio."

CPI Corp ran some 2,700 portrait studios in Walmart and Sears stores around the country. Unfortunately, Q3 saw the company report a loss of $20.2 million, and it has defaulted on its lenders. Studio employees will be paid through the end of this week before the doors close for good. That's an awful lot of portrait photographers now without work. There have been rumblings about poor management and financial difficulties for quite some time, as evidenced by this blog, primarily written in 2009.

If you do still enjoy perfectly posed family photographs, taken with an extremely soft lens, there are many small, local portrait studios who would be more than happy for your business. And that way you can support local artists, too.