Penn Camera Files For Bankruptcy

The local camera chain, founded in 1953, will reportedly close five of its eight locations.

By: Carol Ross Joynt

The 18th Street location of Penn Camera is already shuttered. Photo by Kyle Gustafson.

The bell hasn’t tolled completely for Penn Camera, but the owners of the venerable Washington-area business filed for bankruptcy and plan to close many of their area stores. One employee says of the announcement, “Downsizing would not have been a surprise. The bankruptcy filing was.”

An online company message read: “A dramatic decline in sales performance during the preceding holiday period has precipitated this action.”

Penn Camera was founded in 1953 and has its headquarters in Beltsville, Maryland. Reportedly, the company will keep open its stores on E Street, Northwest, in Tysons Corner, and in Rockville, but it immediately closed the remaining stores: 18th Street, Northwest, Springfield Commons, Fair Lakes, Pikesville, and Laurel Shopping Center.

Even though a few stores will stay open, Tom Mann at said he’d been told it was only “for a while.” He called the news “sad” and said it’s “almost certainly just another example of the direction the industry is going.” The company will hold a “special clearance sale” at the remaining stores.

We have contacted Penn Camera vice president Max Zweig, and will update when we have more information.

The Penn Camera Web site says: “You’re our neighbors, friends, and colleagues. When you become part of the Penn Camera community, you’re not just shopping at a nameless, faceless big box store—you’re supporting the local economy, interacting with your community, and learning to improve your photography.”