January 11, 2017, marked the end of an era for Durham Region, as an institution of Oshawa for the past 100 years closed its doors for good. There is one less place for photographers to get their equipment and develop their prints: Robert Aldsworth’s Photo World is now closed.
The store which closed under the Aldsworth’s name started in 1898 as a passion project of William E. O’Brien, an Oshawa resident who had an interest in photography. In 1957, it was taken over by Robert Aldsworth, where it became a family-run operation dedicated to supplying quality photo service to Oshawa photo-lovers.
Robert Aldsworth and daughter Kathy have run the store, at 907 Simcoe Street North, together for the past 30 years. They say working together has been a great experience, and one they will miss.
“We’re going to miss the camaraderie. We’ve been fortunate enough to work together for 30 years. So I’m grateful for that opportunity.” says Kathy.
While the Aldsworths say that business has continued to run relatively well, it’s time for them to move on.
“We’re closing because though we’re still pretty busy, and things are going OK, it’s time to move on and do other things,” says Robert.
Changes in photography production have taken their toll on the business over the years. The advent of digital photography has meant the decline of classic printed photography. Though the store has adapted to this changing landscape, Kathy notes that shift has been significant.
“Society has changed. Younger people aren’t printing as much,” she says.
Kathy does note that while most photographers today gravitate towards digital photography, there is still a niche market who prefer the classic print process. This group of photography lovers has contributed to the store’s longevity over the years. The store owners say that with the store closing, these customers are left with fewer options to practise their craft.
“A lot of customers are not very happy that we’re closing, and they’re asking where they can go for printing. I don’t really know what to recommend. People are happy with our quality, and maybe not so happy with some of these other places’ quality. So like I said, they’re not so happy about us closing,” says Kathy.
This loyal customer base has helped the store’s business throughout the years, but it has also become more than that for the Aldsworths. Certain customers have become friends, while others still have become “family”.
“Were going to miss all of customers, especially our really loyal customers. They’re like friends to us, and in some cases like family,” says Kathy.