The Evolution of Gary Camera

Gary Camera Black and White Photo
Gary Camera in downtown Gary, Indiana during 1940s

The Early Years of Gary Camera

Gary Camera was founded in 1940 in the steel regional center of Gary, Indiana. The original founder and owner was Joe Janowski. In 1973, Ray Blane, who had been working there since 1949, took over ownership of Gary Camera from Joe. Shortly thereafter, a devastating fire in 1974 forced Ray Blane to move Gary Camera to its current location south on Broadway to Merrillville, Indiana.

In 1976, Gary Camera began to evolve with the introduction of the Canon AE-1, the first auto-exposure SLR camera. Additionally that year, our store opened up the first complete camera repair shop in the Midwest, which is still in operation today to serve digital, 35mm film, and video equipment. In 1983, portable video camcorders were introduced on the market, which quickly overtook the home movie film business. Consequently, Gary Camera changed its name to Gary Camera and Video to keep up with the changing times. In 1986, the next big thing in the photo industry was the revealing of the Minolta Maxxum, the first auto focus SLR camera. With the auto focus SLR market expanding, Gary Camera launched its Noritsu Kodak One-Hour lab. Finally in 1991, Gary Camera and Video introduced the first Kodak Digital Copy Print Station in the Northwest Indiana and Chicagoland area.

The Onset of the Digital Age

Gary Camera in 2010
Our Current Store in Merrillville, Indiana

The late 1990s would mark the beginning of the Digital Age of Photography. All across the photo industry, Gary Camera began to see drastic changes in sales as digital photography began to replace traditional 35mm photography. Gary Camera witnessed immediate declines in film processing as customers began to make the transition to digital photography. This period of change also quickly revealed how important the Internet would become to the photo industry in order to reach a changing customer base.

In 2001, Gary Camera jumped into the Ebay marketplace to seek out new customers. We felt that Ebay offered Gary Camera the kind of exposure that would allow us to continue serving customers day-to-day as we had done in our store for so many decades earlier. Today on Ebay, we are a Top-Rated Seller and a Top 10,000 Reviewer.


GaryCameraDigital.com

The launching of our 2010 web store, GaryCameraDigital.com, marked the beginning of a new path for what is now Gary Camera & Digital. We are still the same traditional “mom ‘n pop” shop that offers you the newest and toughest items to get on the camera market, but now you can shop conveniently from your own personal computer and enjoy the same great customer service our professional sales team has pieced together for you online. Each sale item even still includes a handwritten in-store receipt!

Today, Mark and Barry Blane continue to own and operate our walk-in store located in Merrillville, Indiana. It is nearly a museum with thousands of cameras spanning the 20th Century lining the shelves. From all of us at Gary Camera & Digital, we hope you have a pleasant experience shopping at GaryCameraDigital.com and thank you again for your loyal business for the last 75 years!


Important Dates in Gary Camera History

1940 Joe Janowski opens Gary Camera in downtown Gary, IN 
1949 Ray Blane is hired after returning home from serving in World War II
1973 Ray Blane buys Gary Camera from Joe Janowski
1973 Later that year, a devastating fire nearly ends the business
1974 Gary Camera moves south to its current location at 6750 Broadway in Merillville, Indiana
1976 Opens up an in-store Camera Repair Shop, the first of its kind in the Midwest
1983 Gary Camera changes name to "Gary Camera & Video" with the onset of VHS
1986 Gary Camera & Video opens its Noritsu One-Hour Kodak Lab
1991 Gary Camera & Video opens the first Digital Kodak Copy Print Station in Nortwest Indiana and the Chicagoland area
1997 Ray and his wife Rose Blane retire and their children take over, who have worked at Gary Camera since 1972
2001 Gary Camera & Video becomes an Ebay Seller in addition to our store operations  
2010 Gary Camera & Video celebrates its 70th Anniversary and changes the name to Gary Camera & Digital  
2010 Gary Camera and Digital opens an online web store, GaryCameraDigital.com