Photo Studio Behrens bows out

Swakopmund’s well-known dealer in camera equipment and photo-printing, Photo Studio Behrens, has closed down at the end of August. The owner, Harold Kaitjirokere, will continue the business on a smaller scale from home.
“It is with a sore heart that we have taken the decision”, said Harold Kaitjirokere to namib times. Kaitjirokere will continue to offer canvass- and large format printing, but not from a formal shop premises any more. He will also continue taking photos at functions, but: “We will not do over-the-counter sales anymore,” he explained.
Photo Studio Behrens is one of Swakopmund’s oldest and most famous businesses. Gert Behrens opened the shop in 1976. Back then it was located in what is today known as Hendrik Witbooi Street. In 1987 the business moved into the old building located next to Otto Günther in town. Here the shop remained for 30 years until its recent closure.
Shortly after moving to the new location, Henning Schreiber, took over the shop from Behrens. In 1996, Kaitjirokere started working at Photo Studio Behrens.
When Schreiber died in October 2004, the photo shop was taken over by Schreiber’s wife, Astrid. Kaitjirokere bought shares and became a partner. When Astrid Schreiber passed away in March 2006 in a car accident, Kaitjirokere bought out her shareholding too. For ten years he was the sole owner of the business.
In the past decade, many camera stores around the world were forced to close their doors as cameras in smartphones are taking the place of mass market cameras, film and paid photo processing. Now, the same fate has befallen Photo Studio Behrens.
“It is not feasible to run a big photo-printing place anymore,” Kaitjirokere said. This applies especially for a “small” town like Swakopmund.
What used to be a main income of the business, the photographic processing or the development of photographic films, has become obsolete. The last time this was done at Photo Studio Behrens was in 2009. The same applies for the Internet Café at the business. As technology increased this part of the business also took a significant dip. People can now go online from their phones.
Another contributing factor for Kaitjirokere’s decision is the new procurement legislation he feels is not very SME-friendly. “It is not easy for a small or medium size enterprise to offer competitive prices, compared to big companies which purchase in bulk,” he explained.
Currently, the staff is busy sorting out all remaining equipment at the shop. What will become of the old building or what business will move in is not yet known.

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