Sunday, September 02, 2012

A Visit to The Mecca in Findlay, OH

On Friday, August 31, Abby and Mike accompanied me on another photo safari into Ohio. Our stops were: Bowling Green, North Baltimore, Findlay, Ottawa, Defiance, Napoleon, and Wauseon. Mostly I shot film on the trip, so I will do a followup post on the photography of the places we stopped after I develop my film. A year ago, Abby and I ventured S to Findlay and some other towns which I blogged about. At that time, we first met Leslie Hunsberger at her shop Imagine That! on E. Sandusky in Findlay. In the past year, I have seen a lot of activity take place in Ohio thanks to Leslie, Matt Marrash and the Film Photography Project folks. It was time for another field trip to Findlay to visit Leslie, so the three of us left Friday morning (if you stick to the 4-lane highways, Findlay is a little over 90 minutes from Ann Arbor).

Leslie has two shops -- Imagine That!, which sells photography-related products and services, and The Mecca -- which is her studio and camera collection as well as store. This is what I love about Findlay -- it's very arts-oriented, with lots of loft and retail space available, allowing specialty places like these to exist. There are many small art galleries, too. Rent in a place like Ann Arbor really stifles that kind of use.

The Mecca is the "film Mecca" where you not only see lots of cameras on display, but they are also being used. Leslie posts here what current models are loaded with film to be used.

We met up with Leslie and Lauren Bagley at Imagine That!, and had a blast at The Mecca talking about photography, film, and what has been going on lately in Ohio. Back at the end of June, there was an event called "Analog Pulse" in Cleveland which was well-attended, and we got to hear about the young people that are using film cameras, and are enchanted by Polaroids. Leslie's film fridge is bulging with Polaroid film, and it would definitely cause legions of 'roid fans to drool...
Ammo Dump

Needless to say, I was impressed by that film fridge, and I finally bought a package of the Impossible Project b&w Silvershade film for my SX-70. We had a lot of fun looking at the objects in the studio, and here are few more shots from inside The Mecca.

Used Polaroid cameras have had a resurgence in sales, now that the IP film is available AND the Fuji pack film has been getting more attention. Young people are excited to see that image come from the camera. While it's a niche product, it is proof that it still has relevance in photography. It is too bad the morons that bought Polaroid sucked the money out of the company only to kill it and the product line. Leslie showed us the Polaroid 8x10 processor that she bought from Cynthia Davis (of Ann Arbor, manipulated Polaroid fame), and now that the IP folks are once again making the 8x10 film, she is able to use it! Note in the last photo, the cameras that are for sale. Apparently, the Debonair plastic camera is selling quite well, and is a favorite of teenage girls!

Based on what I saw at Findlay, it is possible to make significant sales of film and paper and related supplies if one is willing to try and work with the local colleges, and tap into the "analog camera" segment of today's market. I'm not talking about becoming just another stop on the Lomography bandwagon. It takes some savvy and dedication to sell these things in today's market. If one is able to really make the film world accessible to new users (and recapture old users), by networking on the Internet, working with local groups, and "branding" appropriately, I think it could work in our local area. If brick and mortar stores continue to operate the way they have been used to all these years, then film becomes less relevant and the local clientele suffers, and the store often ends up ignoring film altogether. Making that extra bit of effort to make film stand apart from the digital world could pay off.

We had an enjoyable lunch with Leslie and Lauren at Logan's Irish Pub, and after doing a bit more shooting around Findlay, we said our goodbyes and headed off to our other stops for more photographic adventures. Thanks again to Leslie for being such a gracious host and also for the goody bags! If you are heading to Findlay, you can find The Mecca at 111 E. Sandusky St.


Jim Grey said...

Holy frijoles, do I ever want to visit this store! It would be an ambitious day trip from my home in Indianapolis.

Leslie Lazenby Hunsberger said...

I would love to have you! I would love to have anyone who also says Holy Frijoles and loves cameras and film, what fun we would have. Stop by anytime Jim.
Mark what a wonderful blog. It was so much fun having all of you stop by and enjoy the Mecca and Findlay, OH. I'm having a blast with the bag of goodies you left. The three of you make excellent delegates for the Ann Arbor Crappy Camera Club.

Remember keep your rollers clean and your film advancing.

Leslie, from the Mecca Studio and owner of Imagine That.

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mfophotos said...

Leslie -
It was a real treat to visit you and see how much the shop has changed since a year ago! Keep up the great work in Findlay :). I hope to see you in Ann Arbor on Sept. 20.

Ron said...

I am looking forward to seeing the photos from your road trip since I am from the area. I need to go down to Finldlay and see Leslie's shop. Did you stop at Deitch's Chocolate Shop in Findlay?