OAKLAND -- After more than a half-century in business, Sarber's Cameras will close its doors at the end of the month in Montclair Village.
"It is with very mixed emotions that this announcement goes out," said David Sarber, the store's chief operating officer. "We are proud to have served our community. We proudly look back at the many great accomplishments that we have made and the many great accomplishments our customers have made over the years. It has been a very rewarding relationship."
"When it's time, it's time," said owner Nancy Sarber, David Sarber's mother. "The fact is that we're just not making it."
The Sarbers had originally announced that they were ready to retire in September and were negotiating the sale of the store. When the sale fell through, they changed their business model, focusing on photographic services, rentals and education and began selling used cameras. At that time, the family warned the community that the store's days in Montclair Village were still numbered.
"It's not easy to stop doing your life's work," David Sarber said. "I feel like I'm abandoning our baby. We will no longer be taking care of the people that we thought we would always be there for."
The liquidation sale sign is plastered to the front window.
"We'll have different markdown periods until all the merchandise is gone," David Sarber said. Currently, most items are marked down 25 percent. Some items are marked down to at or below cost.
The family has weathered many storms that have affected the business throughout the years. The arrival of the digital age of photography drastically changed the way pictures were taken, changing consumers' needs and demands and cutting into the profit margins of businesses such as Sarber's.
The turbulent nature of 21st century financial markets has also been a challenge for small businesses -- with more limited cash flows and purchasing power than larger companies -- to simply keep merchandise on the shelves.
"A retail store is like a hungry baby. You've got to keep feeding it, or it will wither away," David Sarber said.
The store dates back to the 1920s. It was bought in 1961 by Peter and Nancy Sarber and moved to Montclair in 1964. David Sarber joined the business in 1983 and took the reins of the business shortly after the death of his father in 1998. Although the family has had stores in a variety of locations, the Montclair store has been the company's flagship store throughout their tenure and the last remaining in operation.
"We are sad that the Sarbers are closing," said Linda Foss, president of the Montclair Village Association. "They have been very supportive of the community and the merchants association."
David Sarber has served on the Montclair Village Association Steering Committee and has been the association president multiple times.
"The Sarber family has left a great legacy in the village," said Daniel Swafford, director of the Montclair Village Association. "They have made a positive impact in the community. David Sarber was a very active community member. He had a vision and expectation for the Village, and he was willing to work for it."
Swafford added that, "Every community event always had a Sarber's photo booth. Who is going to take the photos now?"