PEORIA, Sick. (AP) — Over 84 years, Peoria Digital camera Store survived adjustments in location and adjustments in how folks took and preserved pictures.

Situated on the Metro Centre buying plaza, Peoria Digital camera Store plans to shut for good Feb. 25. Its photo-processing laboratory in all probability will shutter subsequent week, though the shop is to proceed to promote cameras, lenses and different tools via February, the Journal Star experiences.

The surprising passing of Invoice Dobbins, who bought the shop in 2007, led to the closure, in accordance with his son, Nate Dobbins. The elder Dobbins, a Morton resident, was 61 when he died two days earlier than Christmas.


“I really feel like I’m bragging by saying this, however I really feel prefer it’s an enormous loss for the neighborhood,” Nate Dobbins mentioned in regards to the retailer’s impending closure. “It’s an enormous loss for my household. However … that is the following step for my household in our grieving course of.”

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Eric Brinker, the Metro Centre president, instructed the Journal Star he’s working with the Dobbins household to attempt to discover a potential purchaser.

“Invoice constructed such a powerful enterprise, with over 30 years of historical past, and we need to do no matter we will to protect his legacy and see it proceed to thrive for years to come back,” Brinker acknowledged in an e mail.

Darla Dobbins, Invoice Dobbins’ widow, is the shop’s co-owner. Nate Dobbins and his three sisters additionally survive Invoice Dobbins, as do 13 grandchildren.

Invoice Dobbins operated the Peoria Digital camera Store printing lab for 17 years earlier than he took over all the operation. Earlier than that, he was an expert photographer.

“He was type of often known as ‘The Digital camera Man,’ at the very least round Morton,” Nate Dobbins mentioned. “You’d at all times see him carrying his digicam round.”

The enterprise lengthy was situated in Downtown Peoria

Peoria Digital camera Store carried photographic units from the day it opened, in 1937 alongside Monroe Avenue in Downtown Peoria. In 1950, the Downtown retailer moved to 539 Primary St. and remained there for 46 years.

In 1990, Peoria Digital camera Store opened its Metro Centre location. The enterprise had a number of house owners, together with founders Joe Kilton and Huber Sammis, earlier than Invoice Dobbins bought it.

From then, Nate Dobbins was the shop supervisor. He began working there when he was a youngster. Working its movie processor was amongst his preliminary duties.

However in 2018, the youthful Dobbins left his father’s make use of and have become a stay-at-home father of three, together with twin women who now are 3. Dobbins’ spouse, Leah, is a doctor. In 2020, they moved to Knoxville, Tennessee.

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Nate Dobbins’ departure modified the calculus relating to the Peoria Digital camera Store future.

“The preliminary line of succession 5 years in the past was me,” Dobbins mentioned from his new house. “However once I determined to maneuver on, (my dad and mom) began getting ready for retirement. The enterprise was on the market, however not like publicly on the market.

“In the event that they discovered someone to purchase it, nice. In the event that they didn’t, this was going to be the outcome, closing the doorways.”

Invoice Dobbins’ demise hastened the method.

“I had an eight-hour drive from right here to Morton,” Nate Dobbins mentioned in regards to the aftermath, “and the entire time I’m pondering, ‘Holy crap, what am I going to do with Peoria Digital camera Store?’ I didn’t foresee it taking place for an additional 5 years.”

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Clients got here from throughout central Illinois

A newspaper commercial heralded the opening of Peoria Digital camera Store in 1950 at its new location, 539 Primary St.

As time handed, the shop developed — significantly as movie pictures declined, digital pictures ascended and cellphone expertise improved. Enterprise fell considerably.

Dobbins mentioned issues rebounded previously decade, buoyed by clients who wished prints of cellphone pictures. Christmas-card photograph prints have been significantly widespread. Such gadgets might be ordered on-line, a key ingredient in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

Longevity and product comprehensiveness helped earn Peoria Digital camera Store a broad buyer base geographically, in accordance with Dobbins. Buyers got here from Bloomington, Champaign, Quincy and Springfield, amongst different locations.

Clients additionally have been loyal, because the store-closure announcement this week highlighted.

“It was not a straightforward choice to do that. I’m getting bombarded with emails from folks which are unhappy,” Dobbins mentioned. “We perceive Peoria Digital camera Store is a cornerstone enterprise for Peoria.”

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It additionally was a cornerstone enterprise for the Dobbins household. Dobbins mentioned the household historical past there may be what he’ll miss probably the most — in addition to his father’s presence.

“These of us who labored for him and my mother have been the legs and the arms and fingers and toes, however Dad is the one which actually poured his coronary heart and soul into that place,” Dobbins mentioned. “He beloved each minute of it.”