Roberts leaving downtown location as part of $2.5M expansion

Roberts Camera announced Wednesday that it is leaving its longtime downtown location on South Meridian Street as part of an expansion in which the company plans to create 35 jobs by 2018.

The retailer of photo, video and electronics equipment said it will invest $2.54 million to lease, renovate and equip a 35,000-square-foot facility at 220 E. St. Clair St. between North Delaware Street and Fort Wayne Avenue.

Office Furniture Mart, which moved to 3448 S. Shelby St. on the city’s south side, formerly occupied the space.

As part of the expansion, expected to be completed in mid-September, Roberts will move from its 21,000-square-foot location at 255 S. Meridian St., where it’s been since 1970. Roberts also leases 3,000 square feet in Union Station, where the company processes the used equipment it buys to resell on eBay.  

“We have very poor shipping facilities [at the current location],” Roberts owner Bruce Pallman told IBJ. “Our new building will take two semis and a UPS truck at one time.”

The expansion will allow Roberts to grow its online presence through its website, as well as on Amazon and eBay, Pallman said. The company also plans to offer a larger variety of products and equipment, in addition to providing more photography classes.

Roberts has 38 employees and could nearly double its work force within the next four years. The company plans to begin hiring for sales, marketing, warehouse, distribution and photo-specialty positions by the end of the year.

The Indiana Economic Development Corp. offered Roberts Distributors LP up to $150,000 in conditional tax credits and up to $18,000 in training grants based on the company’s job-creation plans.

Founded in 1957 by Pallman's parents, Robert and Rose Pallman, Roberts started downtown as a wholesale store that sold everything from jewelry and watches to appliances and cameras.

In 1970, the store moved to its current location, where the focus of the business shifted to photography and electronics.

Roberts also has a store at 12761 Old Meridian St. in Carmel.

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