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Roberts closes Bloomington photography store

January 15, 2008
The unrelenting growth of Internet sales has prompted Indianapolis-based Roberts Distributors LP to shutter its Bloomington store.

General Partner Bruce Pallman said the store, located on Kirkwood Avenue near the Indiana University campus, will close Feb. 29 after 12 years in business. It had bled more than $100,000 a year for three years in a row.

Contributing to the hard times was the advent of a Best Buy big box in Bloomington and Indiana University's decision to use out-of-state suppliers.

"We kept seeing our customer count go down," said Pallman, the second generation to run the company since its founding in 1957. "The world is buying online a lot more."

Pallman hopes that at least 30 percent of the sales from the 1,200-square-foot store will migrate to its main location in downtown Indianapolis at 255 S. Meridian St. or its store in Carmel at 12225 N. Meridian St.

Bloomington store manager Mike Vandenburg was offered a position in Indianapolis, but turned it down. Thus, all four employees and one part-time worker will lose their jobs.

The Indianapolis and Carmel locations are faring well, Pallman said, because the company is one of only about a dozen in the country that offers highly specialized equipment. For instance, Roberts stocks the hard-to-find Canon 1 DS Mark III, an $8,000, 22-mega-pixel camera used by professionals to shoot images of products.
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