Family-owned store moves into larger location
Since he started repairing cameras in his spare bedroom as a college graduate with a degree in Japanese history, Jerry Sullivan has focused on building his own job and business.
After learning about camera repair from mentors Steve Gamboa and Bob Bacon, Sullivan opened Precision Camera Repair and Rental in 1976. The 750-square-foot repair shop had a small photo gallery, and Sullivan laughed when asked about his first location.
"It was ridiculous," he said. "We would have a sale, and people would have to leave the building before anyone else could come in [because the building was so small]."
Precision Camera, which Sullivan co-owns with his wife, Rosemary, expanded before moving in 1999 to 3800 N. Lamar Blvd. Sullivan was told last year that the North Lamar shopping center would be bulldozed, and after not finding any other available spaces in the same area, he relocated the store to the intersection of Anderson Lane and Burnet Road.
Sullivan said he is still in disbelief about the new 20,000-square foot building, which opened March 1, and called the old building being bulldozed a blessing in disguise.
"[Customers] walk in here and are like, 'Wow,'" he said. "It's pretty amazing compared to the old place."
Precision Camera offers camera sales, rentals, repairs, classes and photo printing. The store carries brands such as Nikon, Canon, Sony and Olympus and also sells camera accessories.
The new location has a frame shop, on-site classes, darkroom, a larger rental department and photo lab with six self-service kiosks and an instant printer.
"We are a complete camera shop," Sullivan said. "There isn't anything else like it in Texas."
Professional photographer Kirk Tuck, a frequent Precision Camera customer, said the store's growth is even more impressive considering that most other camera shops have gone out of business. Having a camera shop that caters to both professionals and novices is priceless in a town such as Austin, he said.
"I think it's a real testament to how well Rosemary and Jerry run the place, not just as photographers, but as a business, to not just tread water but to increase sales and increase profitability," he said.
Precision Camera & Video offers repairs on classic and digital cameras.
Co-owner Jerry Sullivan, who started in the camera industry doing repairs, trained Dave Edwards to do the repairs at Precision Camera. Sullivan and Edwards do all the repairs at the camera store.
Sullivan said the digital cameras have gotten to the point where they are impossible for most people to repair themselves. Canon, for instance, has $150,000 worth of equipment it uses just to diagnose what is wrong with a camera, he said.
For repairs the store cannot do, Precision Camera sends the camera to other certified repair centers to have the work completed. Precision Camera also offers rush service, which costs twice as much as a regular repair but means the work will usually be done the same day.
On-site photography classes
Photography classes are held on-site at the new Precision Camera & Video location.
Owner Jerry Sullivan said the demand for classes seems to outpace the supply.
"That's been the largest need of the photography business," he said. "People buy all these cameras, and they are so sophisticated that they really are overwhelming, they don't know how to use them."
Customers who purchase a camera at Precision Camera get a credit for a free class taught by trained professionals. In addition to beginner classes on subjects such as basic point-and-shoot camera skills, Precision Camera University holds intermediate and advanced classes on subjects such as studio lighting and food photography.
April classes scheduled for Precision Camera's on-site learning facility include:
- April 3: Intermediate Photo Class 1
- April 8: Intro to Studio Lighting
- April 9: Basic DSLR Class
- April 13: The Art of Food Photography
- April 15: Intermediate Studio Lighting
- April 18: Digital Camera Workshop
- April 20: Basic Point and Shoot Class
- April 23: Adobe Photoshop 101
- April 27: Composition, Angle, Lighting & Lens
2438 W. Anderson Lane, 512-467-7676, www.precision-camera.com