With more than 20 years as co-owners of Sheldon of Los Altos, Eddie Richardson and Timothy Gill have experienced the ups and downs businesses weather in good times and bad.
“I’ve been surfing,” Richardson said of the economic waves.
But this time around, the photographers aren’t waiting to ride out the waves. With rent on the rise, downtown’s photography studio at 380 Main St. will relocate at the end of July. Richardson said he hopes to remain in Los Altos.
“The economy is difficult – and not just for us, but for other businesses – and then with the construction and the rising rent,” he said.
Richardson said he lost business for scheduled sittings when customers arrived downtown – formally dressed for a photo shoot – and left because they couldn’t find parking nearby.
So Sheldon of Los Altos is officially searching for less space and lower rent, a move that includes downsizing its inventory of photo negatives accumulated since the business opened in 1962. It’s a bit overwhelming, Richardson said.
“The stuff in this building is bad for my feng shui,” he said. “I’ve got too much stuff.”
He’s also got way too much to do between running a business, finding a new store location, packing up, moving out and moving in – somewhere. Sheldon’s was planning to move into empty space available on State Street, but that deal fell through, he said. Plans to move from the space on Main at the end of the month are still a go, and with a large span of loft and an attic housing boxes of Sheldon’s photographic archives, Richardson knows one thing for sure.
“There’s an incredible amount of negatives – I’ve got negatives from the ’70s,” he said. “And I will not be moving them.”
So Richardson and Gill want to get the word out to clients – some long-term, others long-gone – that negatives from photographs customers select from each sitting are available for purchase, starting at $100 per set.
Richardson knows some will balk at the cost, but he said it’s really a small price to pay for storage and a service that protected potential family heirlooms in the event of a home fire, flood, earthquake or other natural disaster. And for those negatives – some stored for more than 18 years – Richardson estimated the cost comes to about $5.50 per year to store and ensure that clients have access to those treasures, whether family portraits or blissful wedding memories.
“That’s why I’m closing the deal,” he said. “It’s OK if they don’t want them – that’s all right. But I’m going to get rid of them.”
And for many customers, retrieving the negatives of those blissful bridal snapshots is clearly dwelling on the negative. Of several wedding-photo customers Richardson contacted earlier this month, bliss ended badly.
“I called 14 clients, and nine in a row weren’t together anymore – and 11 of the 14 (aren’t) together,” Richardson said. “It’s amazing how few people are together. It just blows my mind.”
With downtown’s plethora of salon services, specialty markets and restaurants, Richardson said he is reluctant to leave one of Los Altos’ premier business districts that attracts customers.
“This is a location-destination type of town,” he said.
And in this digital age, the most space he needs is on a computer’s hard drive.
Richardson said he is working with a local commercial-property broker to find the right space at the right price.
“I’m not discouraged, because God has a way of making things happen. Don’t fret – I’ll be somewhere.”
For more information, call 948-3823.