Wells Camera celebrates past, looks to future

Austin M.
Austin M. Davis
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Wells Camera and Sound has lasted 40 years in Moose Jaw by embracing change.

The staff at Wells Camera and Sound (L-R) Mac Anderson, Bob Wells and his brother Chad celebrated the stores' 40th anniversary and have launched a smartphone app to help people print photos off their phone.

“We try to make at least one positive change to our business every year,” said Chad Wells. “Sometimes it’s a small change, sometimes it’s a major change. But we always add something to keep progressing and keep moving forward.”

Chad and Bob Wells have continued the business their dad Kitch started and have maintained his passion for innovation.

The history of the Wells’ involvement in the camera business goes back further than 40 years. Kitch was an aerial photographer during the war and after leaving the armed forces, he bought Excelo Photo in 1949.

To hear Bob tell it, Kitch embraced the changes within the industry.

“In 1965, he added one of the very first colour photo labs in the province of Saskatchewan. In fact, it was probably one (of the first) in western Canada,” Bob said. “It filled up the entire basement of the building. And it had the capacity of a machine that would be about four feet square today.”

At that time everything involved film and chemicals. There was no digital, but when it arrived, the Wells brothers would be ready.

Bob started working with his dad in 1969. Four years later the mall opened and the Wells family decided to open up another business called Wells Camera and Sound. The store opened in November 1973 and stayed there for about 30 years before relocating to the current location on Main Street North.

“We’ve seen a lot of changes, that’s for sure,” Bob said.

One of those changes was the prominence of smartphones as cameras and Wells has put itself on the forefront of that change with the release of a new app for iPhones.

“Go to an event like a football game or a concert and pay attention to what people are taking pictures with, and quite often it’s a smartphone these days,” Chad said. “The problem is that it’s not the simplest process to get those pictures dealt with.”

He said the average length of a smartphone is about the length of a contract with a  service provider: two or three years.

Few smartphones make it that long and pictures could be lost.

Wells Camera’s idea was to streamline the process to get photos off the phone and professionally printed.

The app can be downloaded from the App Store by searching Wells Camera. It connects the user’s iPhone directly to Wells’ server, organizes the photos and sends the photos as a print order.

“We simply print the order and then the user receives a confirmation e-mail telling them it’s complete and ready for pickup,” Chad said. “It eliminates the need for a computer. It eliminates that third step.”

Streamlining the digital photo printing process is just one example of how Wells has thrived as an independent camera shop. They’ve diversified products, went to seminars and joined a buying group to stay competitive.

Bob said Kitch would be very happy about what his sons have accomplished, including the business’ current location and Wells’ adaptability to the changing technology.

“He was never afraid of change either,” Bob said.

Austin M. Davis can be reached at 306-691-1258 or follow him on Twitter @theAustinX

Organizations: Wells Camera, App Store

Geographic location: Saskatchewan, Canada

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