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Nelson Photo fills vacancy left by abrupt departure of Bob Davis

By Dave Schwab

A new photo shop that’s actually an old San Diego favorite is moving into the building formerly inhabited by Bob Davis Camera at 7720 Fay Ave.

Nelson Photo Supplies in Little Italy along with Point Loma Camera have teamed to open a new shop in La Jolla. It will be known as Nelson Photo La Jolla.

The store is currently being remodeled, with plans for an opening in mid-October. Leon Chow of Point Loma Camera will be the manager and a partner with Nelson Photo owners Larry and Nancy Kuntz.

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Bob Davis Camera, a La Jolla institution for many years, shuttered its doors unexpectedly June 8. A tax lien and unpaid rent caused the owner Bill Price to abandon the building. Items left in the store were subsequently sold at auction.

Chow said La Jolla’s new photo shop will blend the new and the old in the photo industry.

“In a lot of ways, it will still be a camera store in a very traditional sense,” he said. “But you’re going to see installed a digital lounge, where customers can use digital kiosks to view, edit and upload their images to be printed at the store.”

The digital lounge concept, according to Chow, is a more personalized way to transact business. Instead of traditional counters and light tables, guests will see couches and coffee tables.

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“It will be a lot like your living room,” Chow said, “except you’ll be surrounded by all the accoutrement you need to do digital work, computers around you with an Internet connection, ordering terminals, a portal to organize digital images.”

Chow said the digital lounge is a one-stop-shop concept that allows patrons to get to know the people who process their prints. Close interaction with an employee will allow photo customers to make special requests, such as cropping, to customize their prints. It also streamlines the ordering process.

“You can place your order from home at 2 a.m.” said Chow, “and we’ll print it and it will be ready for pickup that day.”

New La Jolla photo shop co-owners Nancy and Larry Kuntz are proprietors of Nelson Photo Supplies, a 55-year-old family business on India Street.

“We open a store every 55 years, this is our first,” joked Larry Kuntz. “We want to have a good, local camera store where the ownership is in the store. That’s been our philosophy.”

Nelson Photo Supplies has been a photography supplier to San Diego for more than 50 years. Since the addition of on-site film processing equipment in 1988, the company has become known for its high quality. The company also offers a complete line of digital and film cameras, wedding albums, darkroom supplies, tripods, paper and the most complete lines of professional films in San Diego.

Larry Kuntz saw a unique business opportunity when Bob Davis Camera closed.

“We had customers in La Jolla who really wanted a camera store again,” he said. “I said, ‘Hey, let’s do this.’ ''

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When the Nelsons learned Point Loma Camera was also eyeing the Bob Davis site, they saw a good match.

The store will carry digital and film cameras including Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Minolta and Pentax. It will also carry a variety of camera bags, binoculars, books, darkroom supplies, film, filters, lenses, lighting, photograph paper, photo printers, projectors, tripods and video equipment.

Leon Chow brings nearly 20 years of experience to his new role as manager of the Nelson Photo La Jolla. He is glad to be bringing a new business model for the shop.

“We’re trying to provide a superior product,” he said. “It will be a new look, new store. We may have some difficulty winning back the neighbors, but we’re going to try our hardest.”

Another benefit to customers will be the experience of technical advisers in the store.

“My people are there eight hours a day, five days a week,” Chow said. “They’re very good at what they do.”

Larry Kuntz said the new shop will be more user friendly, with parking and access in the back of the store as well as the front.

“Each community needs a locally owned and operated camera store,” he said. “Local camera stores are places you can trust to bring in your memories to be printed and you trust the people who print them. As a locally owned business, this is where the customer knows the owners, and the owners work in the store.”

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Nelson Photo La Jolla will be open Monday through Saturday. Visit www.nelsonphotosupplies.com.